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foreword by S. M.EISENSTEIN 




1847 Lucretia Ave. 

Los Angeles, CA 90026 


37417 NilesBlvd SV /f 510-494-1411 

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Scanned from the collections of 
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum 

Coordinated by the 
Media History Digital Library 

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Media History Digital Library 







and more than two hundred illustrations 






HILL and WANG - New York 





Published by Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc. 

All rights reserved 

ISBN (clothbound edition): 0-8090-3450-6 
ISBN ( paperback edition ) : 0-8090-1366-5 

Library of Congress catalog card number: 59-8663 

Published simultaneously by Doubleday Canada Ltd., Toronto 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

123456789 10 








Introduction : 

Creation and Technique in the Cinema 

The Compositional Construction of the Shot : 
i. Pictorial Treatment in Film .... 

2. The Cinema Shot ...... 

3. Shot Editing ...... 

4. The Elements of Shot Composition 

(a) The Limits of the Shot (frame of the image) 

(b) The Camera-angle .... 

(c) Viewpoint and Foreshortening 

(d) Perspective Unity ..... 

(e) The Optical Design of the Image 

(/) The Lighting and Tone of the Image 
(g) The Time Factor 

5. Construction of the Shot Compositional Scheme 

6. Statics and Dynamics of Shot Composition 

7. The Principle of Compositional Unity 

Methods of Working Out the Scenario : 

1. The Production Scenario 

2. Review of Technical Methods of Shooting 










Creative Problems of the Camera-man's Art : 

1. The 'Reproduction' Period . . . . . . . 137 

2. Pictorial Influences . . . . . . . . 153 

3. The Cinema and Pictorial Art . . . . . . .166 

4. The Theory of Photogenics . . . . . . 174 

5. The Role of the Camera-man in the Western Cinema of To-day . 181 

6. The Development of the Art of the Camera-man in the Soviet Cinema 186 

7. On Creative Method and Style in the Art of the Camera-man . .215 


My dear Volodya, 

I am eager to accept the dedication to me of your book, for it is a pleasure 
to recognise that the methods of approach to the artistic problems of film creation 
used at the director's faculty of G.I.K., 1 of which I have been in charge for the 
last five years, have now extended also to the faculty of camera-men. 

I appreciate your effort to make the first steps towards clarification of the 
specific problems in the work of the camera-man considered as problems of art — 
that light, indeed, in which they should be faced and considered. In this way 
you are successfully profiting from the great experience you gained during your 
work as second to so great a master as Eduard Tisse on my productions " October " 
and " The General Line ", and also from your own successes as first camera-man 
during the last two years. 

This experience, together with the serious and scientific approach we have 
introduced and are trying to cultivate in our Film University — the first in the 
world — is what renders your book of real value and interest to everyone con- 
cerned with the work of the camera-man as an artist. Regarding him — the * man 
who turns the handle ' — as such is the only fair, right and useful way of looking 
at him. This attitude characterises your book, and is due to that principle of 
artistic collectivism, or ' team-work ', which is so typical of our Soviet methods 
of creation and contrasts so strongly with the individualist approach to art typical 
of the bourgeois conception. To this principle of creative collaboration we owe 
the most brilliant successes in the history of our Soviet cinema. 

I wish the book every success. 

S. M. Eisenstein. 

1 G.I.K. — the State Institute of Cinematography. — Ed. 



THE film is a synthetic art. A cinematograph film is built up as the result 
of collaboration of a numerous creative group : scenarist, director, 
camera-man, sound-recordist, composer of the musical score, art 
director, and actor. 

A highly complicated technical process is involved in cinematographic art. 
The modern cinema is not only a specific form of art, but a branch of industry, 
developed on a peculiar industrial basis. 

Technique is the basis of cinema production. The development of produc- 
tive forces at the beginning of the nineteenth century led to the creation of photo- 
graphic technique, and this in turn became the source of cinema technique. 
Photography came into being as the result of man's desire to fix permanent pictures 
of the reality existing around him. The cinema provided him with such pictures, 
with the addition that they were capable of being reproduced dynamically. In 
fact — the ' moving picture.' 

The cinema established a new profession, non-existent in any other form of 
art or branch of industry : the camera-man. For a long time his role consisted 
in the passive documentation of real objects, without any active intervention in 
the photographic process of recording. In those days the cinema was without 
dramaturgist or director, actor or art director. Only later, when the cinema's 
possibilities of expression had been sufficiently realised, when the cinema had 
taken its place in the arsenal of art-weapons influencing man, did the director, 
dramaturgist (scenario- writer) and actor appear, each deriving from closely related 
fields of art. 1 But the one man who wields the special technique of the cinematic 
process, who must possess a knowledge of all the technical resources and special 
means involved in the peculiar ' shooting ' process of cinema, remains the camera- 

What is the camera-man's profession ? What precisely does he do, and 
what role does he play in the ranks of the creators of the film ? 

In view of the youthfulness of the film as a special art form, such questions 
may at first seem surprising. The functions of the various participants in shooting 
a film may at first sight seem so obvious as scarcely to call for definition. Broadly 
speaking, the camera-man's job is generally understood as the technical process 
of getting the given scene on to the film, by means of photographic and cinema- 
tographic technique. 

None the less, this conception of his job, although the one generally accepted, 
particularly outside the U.S.S.R., does not provide an answer to the main ques- 
tion : Is his work creative ? 

Certainly the purely technical functions of the camera-man are easy enough 
to define. The technique of film photography, built up on the basis of the per- 
tinent facts of photo-chemistry, optics and mechanics, can be listed in six principal 

1 Sound recording also derives from a related field. — Ed. 


divisions. To carry out the various requirements of the director, the present-day 
camera-man must be master of the technique of exterior and interior photography, 
slow motion and ultra-rapid photography, process work x and cartoon work. To 
be all-sided he should also be acquainted with the types of filming employed in 
scientific work, 2 for all this comes within the sphere of the representational 
resources of the cinema. Thus his technical knowledge must embrace a large 
variety of problems, and demands protracted and systematic study in a large 
number of sciences. 

But the camera-man works in a branch of industry whose product consists 
of ideological values. The story film is first and foremost an art product. The 
director and camera-man may be separated by their respective roles in the com- 
plexity of the technical process of film production, but at the same time they are 
united by the unity of the content of the film. What is the camera-man's job 
from this point of view ? 

For the camera-man the technique of film photography is only the necessary 
means of realising the film's artistic content. Technique, with such manifold 
pictorial possibilities at its command, cannot in story film be considered in isola- 
tion from the creative process. Every technical device has significance only in 
so far as it contributes to the expressive language of the film. Dissolves and 
fades, multiple exposure, optical combined printing, trick processes, sharp and 
soft focus, long-shot and close-up, tonal gradation of the image — all these are 
means of expressing content, the means used by cinema. 

The artistic cinema 3 is a new form of artistic expression, a new art form 
with its own special technique. Cinema art may be ranked as a special plastic 
art, but possessing extensions in time (and therefore dynamic) and in sound. It 
is already apparent that the day is not far distant when it will also incorporate 
the technique of colour and stereoscopy. The more complete technique becomes, 
the more possibilities of expression become available, thus enriching the resources 
available for achieving the creative tasks of cinema art. 

The creative element is the guiding one in the camera-man's work, and 
technique is only the means of realising the artistic purpose. And if this be so, 
if his work involve elements of artistic creation, then it is clear that it will be 
governed not only by a technical methodology, but also by principles of an art 
methodology, which in this case may be termed the art of constructing cinematic 

The theatre has its theory of stage expression, the pictorial and sculptural 
arts have their theoretical basis. The theoretical basis for film direction is slow 
in developing, and so far such a basis is altogether lacking for the camera-man's 
art. None the less, during its four decades of existence cinema practice has 
accumulated a rich empirical material, and the formulation now of certain methodo- 
logical conclusions is certainly not premature. 

The precise role played by the camera-man in the creative process of making 
a film has already been the subject of frequent discussion, both abroad and in the 

In the bourgeois cinema the camera-man's creative tendencies are to some 
extent inhibited and his work reduced to the narrowly technical process of photo- 
graphing the film. This exclusion from the creative group is to be attributed 

1 i.e. back projection, Schufftan, Dunning, multiple printing, etc. — Ed. 

2 As X-ray, microphotography, etc. — Ed. 

3 Here the expression implies story film plus subjective documentary, i.e. anything in 
film not a simple record. — Ed. 


to the methodology of the organisation of bourgeois film production and the 
nature of its aesthetics, in both of which social limitations tend to prevent a clear 
approach to understanding the specific qualities of the new art form. The Soviet 
cinema is founded and developed on other principles, and for us the question of 
the respective roles of every person participating in the creative group acquires 
a different character, one oriented solely and unrestrictedly on the specific 
qualities of cinema and the peculiarities of its creative process. 

I make no claim that the following chapters constitute an exhaustive basis 
for the theory of the camera-man's art. Even the very term ' camera-man's art ' 
is used only provisionally, because the cinema as yet possesses no clear, established 
terminology. I shall have been successful in my task if, as I hope, I shall have 
indicated, even if only approximately, the main features of its creative peculiarities. 




EVERY art product, independently of the application of the means of 
expression specific to the given art, is a special form of imaginal, con- 
cretely sensuous perception and modification of objective reality : 
inevitably, we may add, an expression of social ideology. 

In all the forms of its creative manifestation artistic reality is not a simple 
documentary reflection of the phenomena of reality. On the basis of the per- 
ceptions experienced by the artist in the process of his reaction to his environ- 
ment, on the basis of his social experience, he obtains an idea of the subject of 
the art-product, and this is transformed to a concrete image, reproduced in this 
form by the artist with the means of expression proper to the given art- 

The art-image does not exist in physical form apart from the subjective 
treatment by the artist, and hence cannot be other than a reflection of his social 
perception and comprehension of the laws governing reality. 

As the treatment of the art-image is determined by the artist's social ten- 
dency, that tendency in turn determines the tendency and character of the 
spectator's conception of reality as reflected in the given art-product. 

The achieving of the subjective treatment of an art-product desiderates on 
the artist's part the discovery and mastery of the specific means of expression 
peculiar to the given art. This is followed by the technical fixing of the art- 
image with the aid of the expressive technique thus acquired. 

Take pictorial art as an example. The achieving of the pictorial image is the 
incarnation of the picture-idea of the subject by means of the construction and 
conjunction of lines, colours, masses, perspectives, forming a unified composition. 
But in pictorial art we have the most individual and self-complete form of pro- 
duction of the art- image, inasmuch as all the means of creative construction and 
technical expression of the conceived image are concentrated in the hands of one 
artist. The theatre provides a different, contrasting and complex example. Here 
the creative function is differentiated among playwright, 1 producer, 2 actor and 

1 In the cinema the corresponding dramaturgist is the scenarist. (Or sometimes 
* Screen play author,' the term ' scenarist ' then being restricted to the technician who, 
aiding, or — in Western practice — sometimes in place of, the film director, re-writes the 
author's treatment in shot-script form). — Ed. 

2 In cinema, the director. — Ed. 



scene designer, 1 and the unity of their collective creation constitutes the theatrical 
production as a whole. The technique of expression in theatrical art relates to 
a spectacle consisting of numerous component elements, and so demands a cor- 
responding division of labour, in other words, a distribution of the creative func- 
tion among the various participants in the creative process. In the theatre that 
process is considerably modified from the direct, simple example provided by 
pictorial art, and here the line of construction of the art-image must run un- 
brokenly from the playwright's and producer's treatment of the production to 
the treatment individually accorded by each actor. The cinema introduces yet 
another, new quality, alien to the schematic process of constructing the art-image 
in the theatre. Although still frequently exploited only for the documentation 
of the object photographed and its simple mechanical fixation on the film, cinema 
technique possesses such various means of constructing and expressing an art- 
image that it cannot be regarded as inevitably merely an instrument of recording, 
of making for example, the pictorial record of a theatrical expression. 

The possibilities of expression at the disposal of cinema technique, still far 
from fully realised, in fact represent a new sphere of formal art methods, unavail- 
able to either pictorial or theatrical art. 

In film art the process of constructing the art-image is by no means ended 
with the working out of the script and the director's and actor's treatment of the 
scene. In the cinema it is not enough to incarnate it in director's and actor's 
treatment. What the spectator sees on the screen is not the real action of the 
scene as it took place in front of the lens at the moment of shooting, but its optical 
interpretation as fixed on the film. 

We use the term " interpretation " deliberately, for the cinematic representa- 
tion is never absolutely identical with the reality subjected to transmission. In 
all cases it is a specific optical treatment of the object, more or less modifying its 
character and even its content significance. Even those films we are accustomed 
to call ' documentaries ' really give us only a greater or lesser degree of approxima- 
tion to simple transmission of the true geometrical relationships and physical 
qualities of the object photographed. A photograph is by no means a complete 
and whole reflection of reality. The specific properties of the two-dimensional 
plane of the picture enable it to transmit the aggregate of qualities of a real pheno- 
menon only in a very one-sided fixation. Quite apart from the exclusion of 
natural-colour transmission 2 the photographic picture represents only one or 
another selection from the sum of physical attributes of the object photographed, 
and the character of that selection depends not only on the laws of optics, but, 
principally, on the methods used in composition of the picture. 

In so far as we have hitherto discussed the special transmission of the object 
photographed, the foregoing remarks are equally applicable to simple static 
photography. As soon, however, as we turn to the second quality of cinema 
portrayal, the possibility of reproducing an object not only in its spatial but in 
its temporal relationships, we immediately realise the decisive influence of such 
factors as speed and rhythm on the character of the perception of a film picture. 
The technical resources available to the cinema enable it not only to modify the 
spatial relationships of the object, not only to create new forms of vision of the 
real environment, but, within broad limits, to change the speed at which the real 
dynamic processes occur. 

1 In cinema, the art director. — Ed. 

2 At present the limited number of organic colours available to cinema technique does 
not make possible fully natural colour transmission. — N. 



Thus it is impossible to claim an absolute identity between the picture on 
the film, and a spectator's direct perception of the same object. At the same 
time this by no means justifies repudiation of all degree of objectivity in photo- 
graphic transmission in general, or of realism in cinematography. In his investi- 
gation of photographic processes, Warstatt points to the relatively objective 
character of the photographic negative, which preserves proportionally the formal 
and linear relationships of the object to an extent adequate for cinematography 
at the present stage of its development. 

What is the basic difference between the photographic picture and a specta- 
tor's direct impression ? 

The difference consists first and foremost in the fact that, owing to the 
associative links of his thought, the spectator's direct perception modifies and 
adds to the perceived phenomenon from the store of his cognitive experience, 
transforming it into a pictorial representation, whereas photographic objectivity 
only transmits, relatively truly, the scheme of formal and linear elements of the 
object. However, the limited realism of the picture in the film is entirely sufficient 
to evoke in the spectator an aggregate of associations corresponding to the object 
filmed. It is to this ability of the picture to cause the required reaction in the 
spectator, and not to the * lifelike ' copying of nature or the situation in the given 
scene, that we must look for the cinema's genuine possibilities of expression. 

Thus the task of constructing a cinematic picture is not the fixation of a 
1 documentary ' record, the endeavour to achieve absolute verisimilitude in respect 
to the object on the screen, but the discovery of a form of visual picture adequate 
to the art-image of the film, in other words, one that is most fully expressive of 
the idea of the given production. Realism in cinematic representation is not 
necessarily a flat and impotent copying of nature, but an art-interpretation of it 
such as will enrich us with a new perception of the genuine meaning, associations 
and essence of that nature. The search for a genuine, realistic discovery and 
interpretation of reality is the first, and the organisation of the necessary repre- 
sentational resources for reproduction of optical images adequate to the art-images 
of the film is the next, stage in the creative work of cinematography. It is at 
this point that, in addition to the dramaturgist's, director's, and actor's treatment 
of the scenario, a new factor enters, involving a fully competent co-author — the 
factor we shall call representational treatment of the production. 1 

Representational treatment in general involves determining the style in which 
the camera-man's work shall be carried out, and also deciding on the methods 
of building up the film as a whole and in its various component parts. 

Who is responsible for this representational treatment ? 

It is achieved by the director and the camera-man in the course of preparations 
for, and during the actual shooting of the picture. And their creative work is 
determined by their general perceptions, their cultural background and their 
craftsmanship. Everything depends on the manner in which the camera-man 
realises the director's instructions, and the means he employs, i.e. upon his method 
of compositional construction ; for the content and aesthetic sense of the object 
filmed are changed accordingly, often its social implication is changed also, and 
consequently the meaning of the picture as created by the dramatist, director 
and actor is modified. The significance and importance of the camera-man's 
craftsmanship arises out of his enormous, and at times decisive, influence through 

1 The art-director is not mentioned here, as he is not germane to the point. His 
enormous share in realising the expressive treatment of a film is quite obvious, and does 
not call for discussion. — N. 

J 7 


his representational treatment. We could give several examples illustrating how 
the creative principles of various camera-men's work reveal this decisive influence, 
not infrequently to the extent of being in sharp antagonism to the main standpoint 
expressed in the scenario. 

The camera-man's starting-point in deciding upon the representational treat- 
ment is the content of the scenario. 

As a literary production the scenario has its own specific form of construction, 
and in particular its own method of setting out the material. This literary exposi- 
tion gives a temporal development of the material, which in every case is built 
up on specific laws. 

In graphic arts the material is given only spatial development. Consequently, 
so far as these arts are concerned we can speak only of spatial representational 

But the cinema is a synthetic art, and in it the material is developed, in its 
various elements, temporally, as well as spatially in representational form. The 
various representational elements in cinematographic production are bound up in 
the development of the film scenario ; the scenario scheme predetermines the 
specific disposition of the various representational elements of the film, the specific 
principle governing the expressive construction in space and time. 

Editing is the method of creative unification of the film's representational 
elements, and consists of the organisation of the shots in such a way as to reduce 
the shot system to a general thematic and compositional unity. It has its own 
laws of compositional construction, rhythm, and methods of influencing the pic- 
ture. We must point out that there is an essential difference between the simple 
assembly of film shots and their editing as a method of creative unification of the 

Accordingly, a film scenario provides both the scheme dictated by the theme 
of the material, and the scheme dictated by the editing methods which are to be 
adopted. In addition it can include sound and music elements. All these factors 
go to make up the film as an integral creative whole. The compositional scheme 
laid down in the scenario predetermines the task of each representational element, 
and thus determines the character of its compositional construction. In the 
course of working over the scenario content the camera-man plans how to give 
expression to the intention of each episode, each scene. The raw material for 
the film, the scenario, is analysed, and this process gives birth to those basic 
* pictures ' which are afterwards realised by the camera-man as concrete images, 
the pictures of the celluloid film. 

We will now briefly analyse the process of carrying out the representational 
treatment of the film, within the limits of the scheme dictated by the specific 
conditions of film production. 

Having to achieve the effect postulated by the scenario, the camera-man breaks 
up the given theme into a series of pictorial representations. Each of them deals 
with phenomena and objects which, when thrown on to the screen, act on our 
perception in a definite association and logical sequence. In the theatre this 
perception of the spectacle is achieved directly, but in the cinema it is achieved 
by the accumulation and juxtaposition of the desiderated associations in the spec- 
tator's mind, evoking in him a certain idea of the relations existing between the 
screened objects. 1 When producing a play on the stage the producer has to work 

1 In cinematic production the manifestation and juxtaposition of associations are 
achieved in the course of editing, which thus constitutes one of the specific peculiarities of 
the cinema as an art. — N. 



with an episode or scene as the smallest element in the production, but in the 
cinema this disintegration is carried farther. We are compelled to work out the 
scenario content down to every detail, though the time taken by the action of that 
detail in the final version of the film may only last a second or two. Yet that 
detail has to retain all its significance as a constituent element of the production, 
and is subjected to the general laws of the treatment and construction of the 
film as a whole. Thus, in the course of analysing cinematic construction we 
arrive at the conception of the cinema shot, a conception specific to cinema, which 
we must pause to define. 



By the cinema shot, or the editing unit in cinematic construction, we mean 
that specific single element in the film which, conditioned by the scenario content, 
makes a separate and indivisible contribution to the film construction in the course 
of editing. 

In addition to the definition of the shot as an element in creative production, 
the terms ' set-up ' or ' camera- angle ' are also applied. 1 But these are purely 
technical conceptions. 

At various stages of the production process the shot is of varying importance. 
In order approximately to elucidate the conception of the ' shot ' according to its 
content, we will consider a brief example of the way in which the thematic task 
is developed and carried through to the point of the camera-man's treatment of 
the scenario. 

We will assume that we are set the task of presenting the scene of Brutus 
murdering Julius Caesar. For simplicity in exposition we deal with a very short 
episode, which will enable us to develop our task in a narrowly thematic and 
primitive form. 

We can formulate the action in words, as : " Brutus strikes Caesar a blow 
with a dagger ". Let us assume that this is to be the content of a single scenario 

In the hands of the director the subject is given a definite tendency. He 
selects the most typical, characteristic aspects, and decides upon the situation in 
which the action is to occur. From the various possible actor's methods he selects 
the variant affording maximum expression in correspondence with the given theme 
and situation. Thus we obtain the directorial plan of the treatment, which lays 
down exactly where, in what circumstances, when and how Brutus is to kill 
Caesar. The directorial treatment of the scene includes both the scheme of 
spatial organisation and the scheme of temporal organisation of the action. And 
so we are provided with the director's shot, which is to be staged and filmed. 

Now we are faced with a further task. The director's shot has to be translated 
into terms of representation. We have to plan the details of and then create 
the visual image which will express the directorial treatment of the episode. 

We have already remarked that the representation of the object as fixed on 
the film is never identical with the facts of the object as directly perceived. Only 

1 ' Set-up ' as equivalent of ' shot ' refers to the fact of unique setting-up and erection 
of camera position (including its movements) for each particular shot. ' Camera-angle,' 
similarly (in this case meaning the visual field embraced by the angle of the lens [L.S., M.S., 
or C.U.] in each given set-up) is also used in English as equivalent to ' shot '. The author 
here often uses in Russian the word ' frame ' as equivalent for ' shot ', deriving from the 
compositional conception of given frame limits resulting from each set-up. In English, 
however, this word is so regularly restricted to the single static picture resulting from a 
single photographic exposure and of which many hundreds may go to form a ' moving ' 
shot, that, to avoid ambiguity, in this translation we have used ' frame ' only in this sense 
or where its implication as physical limit of the composition is quite obvious. — Ed. 



in isolated cases will a shot happen to provide a complete representation of the 
object, and in the majority of cases we get an extremely one-sided fixation which 
is by no means characteristic of the object as a whole. In addition, owing to the 
influence of a number of factors which we shall consider later, the object as shown 
on the screen in the conditioned time and space of the shot is perceived very 
differently from its immediate perception in reality. Supposing the camera-man 
contented himself with a mere recording of the episode, without attempting to 
organise it in the space and time of the shot. Then, in addition to the expressive 
aspects characterising the moment of action, namely, those dealing with the blow 
Brutus strikes with the dagger, the shot will contain a number of fortuitous elements 
unrelated and unessential to the task that was set. When thrown on to the screen 
these elements will also engage the spectator's attention, and may distract him 
from the main action. In consequence his attention will not be entirely concen- 
trated on the essential element, and so the shot will not entirely fulfil, and may 
even modify, the function it was allotted in the scenario. 

Thus we are confronted with the necessity so to organise the expressive 
elements in the space and time of the shot that the idea at the basis of the directorial 
treatment will be clearly manifested, and this will only be achieved if fortuitous, 
unessential elements are suppressed. 

What methods do we employ to organise the object in the space and time 
of the shot ? 

Here we need to consider the definition of the conception composition of the 
shot, which includes all the elements in the expressive construction of cinematic 

In its general form the task of composition is to organise the object in the 
space and time of the shot with a view to obtaining the most expressive possible 
exposition of the content and significance of the given art-image. 1 

The resources of composition are used to manifest both the object of the 
representation and those associations and agencies by means of which we gain a 
general understanding of the idea and significance of the art-image. 

In our example of Caesar's murder, which we temporarily considered within 
the limits of a single director's shot, the main composition motif was the expressive 
manifestation of Brutus' action. In practice, on receiving the director's treatment 
of the staging of the murder, we have to transfer the most highly expressive pro- 
jection of its elements to the plane of the shot's spatial and temporal extension. 
Having decided upon the form of composition, we proceed to realise it in a shot. 

So far we have considered the simplest solution to the scenario task, one 
which gives it a one-sided illustrative representation. We have, as the result, 
an informative exposition of the subject in a single shot, obtained by means of 
a single set-up of the camera. The absence of dynamism in the resultant record 
indicates from this viewpoint a similarity in principle between the single cinema 
shot and a static photograph. 

In order to get over the abstract quality of a one-sided, informative exposition 
of the subject, and to raise it to the heights of emotional impression, we can intro- 
duce a number of new representational features which are not to be found in 
our original simplified treatment. We can differentiate the content to be expressed, 
and break up the shot treatment into several expressive elements, to be trans- 
mitted by means of several different set-ups. 

We give the following simple analysis as an example. 

1 The problems of the aesthetics of the compositional structure cannot, of course, 
be isolated from the content significance, except for convenience in discussion. — N. 



First : The representational characteristic of the place of action. Brutus 
and Caesar in one frame. 

Second : The representational characteristic of one person : Brutus. 

Third : Representational characteristic of the other person : Caesar. 

Fourth : Brutus' operative tendency. He raises his hand. 

Fifth : The instrument of the murder. The dagger in large-scale detail. 

Sixth : Caesar's reaction to the operative tendency. He attempts to ward 
off the blow. 

Seventh : Brutus fulfils the operative tendency. He strikes the blow. 

Eighth : Caesar falls. 

Thus we now have an exposition of the same subject in eight shots, each of 
which has its special and distinct task. These eight shots are linked with one 
another by the unity of their compositional theme. The elements of this unity 
have to be introduced into the separate compositional scheme of each shot, for 
in order to fuse the separate shots into a single integrated conception of the entire 
episode, we have to pass through the stage of editing unification of the shots. 

This brings us to a fundamental question: 

If unity in the compositional theme be a prerequisite to the ultimate editing 
unification, it is evident that there exists a single principle of compositional struc- 
ture, which, in any estimate of the correctness of the compositional form given 
to each shot, must serve as sole criterion. 

We shall not find the answer to this problem merely by considering the 
problems of composition involved in each separate shot, and we have to discuss 
now the conception which we have above called editing.'' 



As we have already remarked, the composition of a film involves a number 
of compositional elements. At the moment we shall only consider the element 
of compositional editing, which has an inseparable connection and fundamental 
interaction with the problems of shot composition. 

The process of creating a cinematic picture runs in an unbroken line from 
the original scenario, by way of the directorial and actor treatment and the photo- 
graphic process, to the editing of the various single shots, into which the prototypes 
of the future unity have by then been introduced. This means that the cinematic 
structure of the picture has to be considered as a unity of the general in the par- 
ticular ; the seeds of the final unity must exist in each single unity, in other words, 
in each shot. 

Editing as a method of artistic unification is not in itself the be-all and end-all 
of cinematography. Made necessary owing to the specific peculiarities of cinema- 
tographic technique, editing is the indispensable means of producing a more 
fundamental and organic form, and hence becomes an inseparable factor in reveal- 
ing the art-image and demonstrating the general idea of the film. 

The form which the compositional editing of the film shall take cannot be 
decided upon by the director arbitrarily, ignoring the content and the formal 
arrangement of each separate shot already taken. Editing will only make an 
integral, creative picture out of the separate shots if the content and formal details 
of each shot have been subordinated to the scenario and the directorial task, which 
predetermined the role and place of each shot in the final assembly, and so pre- 
determined the form of the compositional editing. 1 

But while the content and the formal treatment of the individual shots deter- 
mine to a large extent the criteria of the correctness of the editing, the scheme of 
compositional editing outlined in the scenario predetermines the principle govern- 
ing the compositional structure of the individual shot. In shooting the film the 
director and camera-man have to bear in mind the ultimate editing, and they have 
to arrange the materials so that each light-accent, each movement, fulfils a definite 
function in the ultimate interaction of the edited shots. The camera-man must 
1 foresee ' the function of each shot in the edited film. 

Because of this, he must take into account the situation and role of the given 
episode or scene not only for its own sake, but as a factor in the creation of the 
picture obtained by the final editing. He must have a creative understanding of 
the material in each shot, he must decide what is the essence of the shot, and its 
main representational elements, on the basis of the future interaction of the system 
of shots when edited. And it is the ability to do this which is the chief and most 
valuable quality distinguishing a good camera-man from an ordinary mechanical 

1 " Without committing blunders," says Engels, " thought can only bring together 
into a unity those elements of consciousness in which, or in the real prototypes of which, 
this unity already exists." (Anti-Duhring.) — N. 



Thus the conception shot editing is not to be regarded as implying a simple 
mechanical assembly of shots into a picture. In reality the two compositional 
elements, shot composition and editing composition, must interact and inter- 
penetrate, with editing composition taking the leading part. Mechanical disin- 
tegration always involves an erroneous understanding of the entire system of the 
cinematic construction of a picture. 1 

Having reached a correct understanding of shot editing as the inseparable 
unity of two compositional elements in interaction, we can now determine the ; 
difference in principle between the method of constructing a cinematic shot and 
that of constructing a static art-photograph. 

The art-photograph presupposes the presence of a principle of compositional 
building up of the image in which its aggregate of representational elements 
expresses a whole finished picture and the whole idea to be achieved. 

The cinema shot is built up on an organisation of the representational elements 
in which the shot fulfils primarily only the single function which the director has 
assigned to it. Of course, the image in any single shot has its own ideological and 
art content. The failure to understand this characterised the ' mechanistic ' 
deviation in the Soviet cinema, the theorists of which deviation almost entirely 
rejected any significance for the single shot and placed all the emphasis on editing. 
The representation in a single shot was regarded as a ' primal element,' as some- 
thing neutral, void of any ideological content in itself. But we reject this idea 
in favour of our principle of the inter-influence and inter-penetration of the single 
shot and the edited picture, and consider that the developed and finished form of 
the picture is achieved only by the compositional editing of a number of shots as 
planned to that end in the scenario. 

Obviously, the question whether the representation itself is static or dynamic 
is without importance in principle in regard to this issue, as in isolated instances 
it is possible to construct an art-photograph with the resources of ' moving ' 
photography, in other words, by means of cinematic technique. 

A consideration of the elements of compositional editing in their indivisible 
unity will help us to understand the processes of shot composition without resort- 
ing to the metaphysical division into ' spatial ' and ' temporal ' composition ; 
for the functions of space and time in the shot are equally the functions of space 
and time in the edited film, and every shot has a functional value in the editing 

1 The declaration of the ' Kino-Eye ' group is a characteristic example of failure to 
comprehend the essence of the process of constructing a cinematic picture. Vertov writes : 
" I am the ' kino-eye,' 
From one I take hands, the strongest and most skilful, 
From another I take legs, the most beautifully proportioned and fleetest, 
From a third a head, the most beautiful and expressive, 
And by montage (editing) I create a new, perfect man." 

(Lef, No. 3, 1923, p. 140.) 
"... The members and organs of a living body," says Hegel, " have to be considered 
not merely as its parts, since they represent something which they achieve only in their 
unity, and are not at all indifferent to that unity. Those members and organs become 
simple parts only under the hands of an anatomist. But then, he has to do not with 
living bodies, but with corpses." (Hegel, Encyclopedia, Vol. 1.) 

As an illustration of the conception of organic unity which exists in the cognising pro- 
cess, Hegel's remarks are perfectly applicable to the problems of film editing. Only in 
highly exceptional cases can we take shots without regard to the general guiding conception 
of the picture, and still obtain such a conjunction of expressive elements as will enable us 
in the course of editing, to achieve a distant approximation to a creative picture instead 
of a mechanical imitation of one. — N. 



We must now deal with the problem of inter- action between the form in 
which the compositional editing is carried out, and the form of compositional 
construction of the shot. 

Editing as a means of creative construction uses a number of methods, the 
application of any one of which will involve one or another form of compositional 
editing. We will not enter into a detailed consideration of the many forms of 
structural editing, but will only briefly summarise certain of the methods on which 
assembly of the shots can be based. 

The primitively informational form of editing is the most elementary, and is 
characteristic of the early stage of development of cinema art. In this form of 
editing we confine ourselves to the representation of the given scene in the given 
shot, and edit those shots in order according to the simple, natural-logical develop- 
ment of the theme, in the order of the change from one camera viewpoint to 

Parallel editing is characteristic of a certain period of American cinema, and 
arose as a further development of the primitively informational form. The 
1 classic ' example is the type of picture depicting the heroine on the point of 
perishing and the race to save her. This theme obviously suggests division into 
two compositional series of shots. Parallel editing can also be applied as a method 
of evoking a simple and obvious comparison (' man and monument,' for instance). 
In this case the principle of compositional construction of shots placed in succession 
when edited forces us to seek a representational form in which the idea of associa- 
tion through resemblance is evoked in its most immediate and simple form. 

Obviously, we can use similar methods to evoke an associative idea of the 
object alternatively through its points of contrast. 

There are also forms of editing assembly specific to the cinema, carried out 
within the limits of a single shot. Later we shall deal specially with the many 
varieties of this ' intra- shot ' editing. 

At higher stages of cinema development we get forms of editing based on 
the simultaneous interaction of a number of shot sections, evoking thereby complex 
associations in the spectator. Eisenstein has worked out the theory of associative 
editing in its higher forms, and has expounded it both in his theoretical works, 1 
and in the special course for directors which he has given in the U.S.S.R. Institute 
for Cinematography. But we cannot stop to consider this question further, 
as it does not fall within the main scope of our task. 

1 S. M. Eisenstein, " Perspectives," Iskusstvo, Nos. 1-2, 1929. " Re the Frame," a 
postscript to Kaufman's Japanese Cinema, 1929. — N. The latter, in translation by I. M., 
was published as " The Cinematographic Principle of Japanese Culture," in Transition, 
Nos. 19-20, June 1930, pp. 90 et seq., and reprinted in Experimental Cinema, No. 3. — Ed. 



Having established that the principles of compositional construction of the 
single shot are in functional dependence upon the principle of the organisation 
of the shots in the course of editing, we can now consider the com- 
positional factors by means of which we organise the image shot spatially and 

As the photographed object is reproduced in the space of the frame and so 
is limited by definite bounds, the camera-man is faced with the task of selecting 
those representational elements which can and must be included in the shot's 
field of vision. He separates out, abstracts from the environment those objects 
which are required to reveal the purpose of the shot. 

The next stage is to place the object in the space of the shot. Here we are 
faced with the problem of the perspective relationships between the various parts 
of the image, with the problem of the inter-relationships of the various objects in 
the shot, their movement and rhythm. In order to determine the place of each 
object in the shot, we need to understand the optical laws of perspective. On the 
principle of perspective unity we have to base our decisions respecting the camera- 
angle 1 of the subject, its foreshortening, and the relative proportions of the various 
masses and surfaces. 

The picture of the image is obtained by the action of the optical apparatus 
used in photography. Each lens possesses its own peculiar optical properties, 
and the character of the optical transmission of the linear and plastic aspects of 
the object photographed depends on the choice of lens. Consequently, the camera- 
man has to include optical resources among those which he creatively exploits in 
carrying through his plan of compositional construction. 

In order to transfer an impression of the bulk of a three-dimensional object 
to the two-dimensional plane of the shot, he must not only place it correctly in the 
shot, but give it correct lighting. This raises the problem of distribution of light 
and shade, which is one of the chief factors in the camera-man's art. 

The tone of the image is closely connected with the question of light and 
shade distribution. Tone and its distribution in the shot play a large part in 
displaying the specific features of the object photographed. To this end the 
camera-man exploits several technical resources which assist in varying degrees j 
to modify the tonal correlationship of the shot. 

Finally, in order to organise the movement of the object within the shot the 
camera-man must understand the effect of the speed of photographing as a means 
of representing and modifying dynamic processes. 

We can now turn to an analysis of the various compositional elements with 

1 ' Camera-angle ' means plane of distance of the camera from the object shot, i.e. 
long-shot, mid-shot, close-up, etc. The word derives from the fact that it is possible to 
determine the apparent distance of the object by change of lens, with a specific angle of 
embrace, in one and the same set-up. (For secondary meaning see note, p. 20.) — Ed. 



the aid of which we carry out the task of composition. We shall consider them 
in the following order : 

(a) The limits of the shot. (The frame of the image in each separate 

(b) The camera-angle. 

(c) Viewpoint (set-up) and foreshortening. 

(d) Perspective unity. 
\e) The optical design of the image. 
(/) The lighting and tone of the image. 
(g) The time factor. 
After briefly explaining the essence of each of these elements of composition, 

we shall analyse their interconnections in the dynamic process, using a particular 
scenario outline as an example. 


The frame limit determines the spatial bounds within which the object to 
be shot is to be confined. As the frame limit effects a strict demarcation of 
the image from the general field of vision, it is a means of making a primary 
selection. When the camera-man includes any object within the spatial limits 
of the frame he is taking the first step in actively organizing the filmed object 
for expressive purposes. . 

Our perception of any object bounded by the frame limits differs considerably 
from our direct perception of the same object under ordinary conditions. When 
we place the object within the frame limits we bring to the screen a presentation 
of that object in a definite spatial situation, as well as of the spatial extent of the 
image as a whole. Consequently, the question of the proportions of the frame 
limits, in other words, the correlation of its sides, is of extreme importance in the 
compositional task. . 

The frame proportions have been the subject of unending, fierce discussions 
throughout the forty-odd years of the cinema's existence. These discussions, 
which from time to time have led to modifications in the frame format, have 
arisen not so much because of the question of technical standardisation as out ot 
the problem of cinema-frame composition. 

In 1929 the scientific research laboratory of the Kodak firm published an article 1 
by Lloyd Jones dealing with the proportions of the frame rectangle from the 
aspect of shot composition. Despite the empirical character of the article, the 
material collected by the author is of great interest to us, for the proportions ot 
the frame limits are still not fixed at a constant ratio. 

In comparing the various correlationships of the frame sides, Lloyd Jones 
expresses the proportions in an abstract dimension obtained as the result ot 
dividing the frame width by its height. This abstract dimension, or coefficient, 
vacillated from 1-25 to 2 during the early years of cinematography. During the 
following period the international format of the frame limits was temporarily 
standardised at a ratio of four to three, the coefficient being 133. But with the 
arrival of the sound film the sound track reduced the width by 2-5 millimetres, 
and the coefficient was modified to 1 • 1 5. In the opinion of many cinematographers 
such a format does not meet the compositional needs of the frame, and in 1933 it 

1 Bulletin of the Kodak Scientific Research Laboratory, Rochester, U.S.A., 1929. 

No. 410. 



was again altered in the direction of the previous correlationship of the sides of 
the silent film, expressed by the coefficient 1-33. 

It may be remarked here that the problem of the proportion of the rectangle 
in relation to compositional tasks has been frequently discussed not only in regard 
to cinema, but also to the original pictorial arts. In the literature dealing with 
these arts we find the following classification of the proportions of the rectangle 
framing the given work of art. 

In the first class are rectangles of the ' static symmetry ' type, the area of 
which can be divided up into a number of equal squares. For instance, a rectangle 
with sides having the ratio 3 to 2 can be divided into six equal squares. 

In the second class are rectangles of the ' dynamic symmetry ' type. The 
ratio of the sides of such rectangles can be expressed in coefficients the dimensions 
of which are equal to the square roots of whole numbers. These include the 
coefficients 1*414 = V2, 1732 = V3, 2 = V4, 2236 = V5, and so on. In the 
same class of ' dynamically symmetrical rectangles ' are those with proportions 
based on the principle of the Euclidean ' golden section '. 

Fig. 1 shows the proportions of rectangles belonging to the first and second 
class. Fig. 2 shows the construction of a rectangle with sides the ratio of which 
is expressed by the coefficient equal to the square root of two. The line OB' 
is a diagonal of the square OAB'. As can be seen from the dotted line, the side 
OB is equal to the diagonal OB 7 . Taking the side OB as the basis of the rectangle, 
we get sides with a ratio having a coefficient of 1*414 = V2. The rectangle with 
the base OC gives a ratio of sides expressed by the coefficient 1*732 = V3. On 
the base OD we have a rectangle with the coefficient 2 = V4, and on the base 
OE we have one with the coefficient 2*236 = V5. 

Fig. 3 shows a rectangle, the proportions of which are strictly in accordance 
with the principle of the so-called ' golden section.' BDAC is a square. O is 
the middle of the base BC. Obviously the line OA is equal to the diagonal OA'. 
Taking the side BA as the base, we get the rectangle BDFA, which has a side 
ratio expressed by the coefficient 1-618. 

After examining a number of classic and modern works accepted as perfect 
in point of composition, Jones came to the conclusion that it is impossible to get 
a standard size which shall satisfy the variety of forms of compositional construc- 
tion in cinema. The differences between the needs of portrait and landscape 
composition, for instance, are so great, that a so-called ' standard size ' would in 
the majority of cases be merely a compromise solution to the problem. 

Jones made certain deductions in regard to the problems of dynamic com- 
position of the cinema-frame, and, regardless of the standpoint and prerequisites 
on which he based his work, these deserve practical attention. They were as 
follow : For landscape and mass compositions the most favourable ratios of frame 
sides are those expressed by coefficients ranging from 1-55 to i-6o. But for 
portrait compositions sizes expressed by the coefficients from 088 to 1*48 are 
more suitable. Therefore, from the compositional aspect the then obtaining 
shape of the sound-film frame, which had proportions expressed by the coefficient 
1-15, was satisfactory only for close-ups and medium-shots showing small groups, 
which deduction was confirmed by the practice of recent years. Hence, it was 
desirable to revise the shape of the sound-film frame in the direction of approxim- 
ating its proportions to produce a coefficient of wider average application. 

The proposal made in America to resort to a ' wide frame ' with sides of 
48 x 225 millimetres (the Fox Grandeur Film standard) only partially satisfies 



C* p" E 

Fig. i. — Proportions of rectangles ; groups 
of ' static ' and dynamic symmetry. 




A B C P E 

Fig. 2. — Calculation of the pro- 
portions of rectangles based on 
1 square roots.' 

"' ! A 


1 /I 


I / ! 

I / 1 


/ 1 


/ | 




1 / 


I / 

V 1 

Fig. 3. — Calculation of the 
proportions of rectangles 
based on the ' golden sec- 

one aspect of the task of compositional construction, by providing the director and 
camera-man with new creative possibilities in the sphere of mass scenes, land- 
scapes, and battle episodes. The proportions of the ' wide frame ' are obviously 
not perfect, since they render the construction of portrait and group composi- 
tions very difficult. Such a shape will not allow of a single compositional 
centre, and in such conditions the planning of a close-up presents considerable 

This tendency towards widening the frame has so far been resorted to in 
cases where the director and camera-man were faced with the task of composi- 
tional planning of mass and battle scenes. 1 

Perhaps the suggestion made by Eisenstein in 1930 was the most rational of 
all. He proposed to make the frame limit circular in form, and to change the 
sides in the course of projection. Rectangles of various proportions introduced 
into the circle would then completely satisfy the varied compositional needs that 
arise in the course of successive shots. 

By reducing the height of the sound-film frame, the cinema has been able 
to return to the former ratio of four to three for the picture. However, as we have 
said, this shape is not likely to prove a satisfactory standard, and it is highly possible 
that it will again be revised. 

Once more we must emphasise that we have by no means disposed of all 
our problems arising out of the frame limits when we have established their 
general proportions, for the possibility of exploiting those limits in compositional 
construction makes them one of the essential means of organising the shot to 
achieve maximum expression. 

The margin of the image not only acts as a restriction of the field of vision, 
but is also an important resource in compositional construction. When the 
camera-man isolates a section of the general field of vision within the limits of the 

1 The ' triptych screen ' of Abel Gance in " Napoleon", for example. — Ed. 



- ** 




* \ i\j^ * 






Fig. 4. — Page from a Japanese drawing 

frame, he ipso facto predetermines the form of the linear composition of the shot, 
since he establishes the vertical and horizontal axes along which the frame space 
is perceived by reference to those frame limits. 

In camera-man's terminology ' to pick a set-up ' means first and foremost 
to find the appropriate margin for the image. Only when the margin is fixed 
can we proceed to the distribution of the objects in the shot, and then to deter- 
mining the remaining elements of compositional unity. 

It is interesting to note that the cinematic method of ' picking out ' the frame 
is used in Japanese schools as a first stage in the study of drawing. From a general 
landscape the students ' pick out ' various rectangles, circles and squares, isolating 
a given detail, and thus creating their own composition. Evidently the Japanese 
teachers have a sound understanding of the primary importance of the margin of 
the image in the general process of composition, and so introduce it in this way 
into the first stage of study. Fig. 4 shows a page from a Japanese primer of 

The cut-outs of the branches of the cherry tree are particularly characteristic, 
for they most clearly reveal the correlationship of the form of the cut-out with 
that of the detail thus isolated from the object as a whole. 1 

We must now consider the compositional bases obtained by modifying the 
position of the frame limits in relation to the vertical and horizontal axes of the 
object filmed. 

In the film " October " 2 (director, Eisenstein ; camera-man, Tisse) is a 
scene in which the revolutionary workers of Petrograd are preparing their defence. 

1 See " Re the Frame," Eisenstein's postscript to Kaufman's book Japanese Cinema, 
1929, p. 29. — N. (Ed. Note, p. 25.) 

2 English title, sometimes, " Ten Days that Shook the World ". — Ed. 



People carrying rifles and dragging cannon march past in uninterrupted procession. 
The drama of the defence is conveyed by the tense dynamism of the procession 
passing through the streets of Petrograd at night. 

This procession could have been filmed in the manner shown in Fig. 5. 
But in this construction the spectator does not feel the dynamism of the unbroken 
procession, as the right dynamic distortion has not been found for the figures. 

For these shots a sloping platform was constructed, up which the people 
passed. If a set-up had been selected which preserved the horizontal, the com- 
positional scheme shown in Fig. 6 would have resulted. Here the line of the 
platform runs almost parallel with the diagonal of the frame, and so the effect 
of the dynamic slope of the figures is partly lost. 

The camera-man Tisse modified the frame horizontal limits by tilting the 
camera sideways, so as to bring them into parallel with the line of the slope. The 
result is shown in diagram in Fig. 7. 

Fig. 8 is a frame from the film " October ". 

In one of Harold Lloyd's films a similar method was used to produce an 
impression of a man bewildered by a misfortune with his car. (Fig. 9.) 

This method of modifying the horizontal limits was frequently resorted to 
by camera-man A. Golovnya in the films " The End of St. Petersburg " and 
" Deserter ". 

In addition to its importance in such instances of shifting the frame limits in 
order to achieve a definite significant and emotional effect, the frame is also of 
great importance when we are determining the compositional relationships between 
close-ups and long-shots, in other words, in the unfolding of space. 

Figs. 10 and 11 are reproductions from works by Degas, a painter who is 
highly characteristic for his ' picking of set-ups '. 


The term ' plan ', which is used in the cinemas of many continental countries 
as the equivalent of ' camera-angle ', is borrowed from the theatre. In these 
countries the term l first plan ' is used in the theatre to indicate the distance from 
the proscenium to the first line of wings, and in the cinema for the ' close-up ' ; 
the ' second plan ' indicates the space between the first and second line of wings, 
and so has come to be used for a medium shot, while the ' third ' or ' distant 
plan ' is applied to the depth of the stage, and is used in the cinema for a ' long- 
shot \ 

As in its elementary beginnings the cinema developed under the direct 
influence of theatrical tradition, the mechanical borrowing of theatrical terminology 
was a common phenomenon. In certain departments of film production some 
of this terminology is in use in English, as for instance the scenario terms ' interior ', 
and ' scene '. 

In English the term ' plan ' has been replaced by ' camera-angle ', which is 
used to indicate the scale of the object's image in the frame, whether it is in ' close- 
up ', or ' long-shot ', for example. The point at which a long-shot merges into a 
medium-shot and so on is very approximate, for the cinema does not recognise 
any exact demarcation between the various sizes of the object in the frame. 

In the early days of the cinema the planning of the scene was restricted to 
the general distribution of the objects in the frame limits, which were regarded 
as a special form of theatre proscenium. Only a primitive form of long-shot was 
exploited. Then came the development of the medium- shot , which enabled us 


Fig. 5. — Compositional plan for a shot in the film " October " (Form I). 

Fig. 6. — Compositional plan for a shot in the film " October " (Form II). 


Fig. 7. — Compositional plan for a shot in the film " October " (Form III) showing tilting 

of frame. 

Fig. 8. — Shot from the film " October 




t mmM 



Fig. 9. — Shot fror 
an American nlr 

mmm*^* . \ . ^^m^mmj^^ with Ha roid uoyc 

to bring the object perceived closer to the audience. With the introduction oi 
the medium-shot came also the possibility of giving special emphasis to one 01 
another part of the scene being filmed, by isolating it from the long-shot of the 
general scene. Correspondingly there was a change in attitude to the scale relation- 
ships between the object and the frame limits, since these limits now began to lose 
their original purpose as an abstract proscenium. With the arrival of the close-up 
this evolution found its natural completion. From the first day of its introduction 
into cinema practice the close-up broke down the tradition of the planning of the 
shot on theatrical lines. In due course it became a specific means of cinematic 
expression, and a stimulus to the understanding and working out of a theory of 
editing, apart from which the close-up loses most of its significance. 1 

The close-up is a means of concentrating the spectator's attention, of bringing 
the object nearer to him and so overcoming the space between him and the action 
of the film. It acquires genuine significance of expression only when utilised 
in a correct system of editing construction. The successive transition from one 
stage of closeness of the object to another must be based on the logic of the action 
or the compositional construction of the picture, when it creates a single line of 
influence on the spectator, from his illustrative perception of the long-shot to 
his intensively saturated perception of the close-up, through all the intervening 
stages of scale enlargement. Thus the spectator is no longer an ' outside observer I 
The camera brings him, so to speak, into the action, by picking out the close-ups 
and the details from the general scene, emphasising the more important moments 
of the action, accentuating their specific features, and revealing the relationships 
between the whole and the part, the general and the detail, which would remain 
imperceptible in a distant, illustrative long-shot. 

In all cases the determination of the camera-angle to be adopted in accordance 
with the directorial shot system is dependent upon the proposed editing scheme 
for the film. Each of the camera-angles picked out by the camera is part of the 

1 The ' discovery ' of the close-up is usually attributed to D. W. Griffith. This, in 
fact, is not quite accurate, for the close-up as a dynamic photo-portrait existed before him. 
Griffith was the first to realise its importance in the film's editing context, and so was able 
to work out pragmatically the elementary principles of editing theory. — N. 



Fig. io. — Frame margin in a picture by Degas. 

Fig. i i . — Frame 

margin in a picture 

by Degas. 



general plan of the scene, and, after the editing process, should comprise a 
development, definition, and accentuation of the single action of the entire episode. 
Neither the director nor the camera-man should arbitrarily select the degree 
of scale enlargement of the object, for the scenario and the editing should remain 
the main determining element in the selection of camera-angle, as they are in the! 
selection of the set-up for each shot. 

In addition to our simple setting out of the episode into camera-angles, wq 
also have differentiation into different planes of distance within a single, unbrokerJ; 
editing unit or shot. If we have several active objects in a given shot, we can! 
plan the frame so as to concentrate the spectator's attention on the main object, 
placing it in the foreground. Thus we demonstrate the spatial connection between 
the main object and its surroundings. Or alternatively, by placing an actor ml 
the foreground with his back to the spectator, we can achieve the converse effect, 
and concentrate the spectator's attention on the action taking place within the 
depths of the shot. In the latter case, by use of a close-up for the next shot we 
establish the spatial orientation requisite to effecting a transition to the detailed 
setting out of the same scene in various close-ups. 

Finally, by redistributing the object in a shot within the limits of a single,* 
unbroken editing unit, we can change the plan of distantial planes in the shot in 
the actual process of shooting. A similar reorganisation of the shot can also be 
achieved by shifting the point at which the camera is set up in the course of a 
single editing unit. In the first case we get a moving object in static surroundings,! 
while in the second case, by shifting the camera, we get a changing background 
against a motionless object which retains its primary spatial position, and merely* 
passes to a different plane of distance within the same shot. 

In all its forms the camera-angle is an essential factor in composition, for 
almost all the perspective constructions in the shot are achieved by juxtaposing 
and counterposing the objects distributed in the various planes of distance from 
the lens. Establishment of the camera-angle (or plane of distance) for the various 1 
objects or parts of objects shot implies a primary form of organising the shot 

But as the spatial element of a single editing unit or shot functionally depends 
on that necessitated by the editing construction of the given scene, the camera- 
angle cannot be determined irrespective of the general plan of shot distribution 
laid down in the editing scheme. 

Having decided upon the ' picking out ' of the image to be achieved by the 
frame limits of the shot, in other words, having decided upon the camera-angle, or, 
in non-technical language, the plane of distance, our next task in considering the 
spatial organisation of the shot is to discuss the aspect or foreshortening of the 
object within that given camera-angle. 


The camera viewpoint has a large share in determining the direction and 
angle from which the spectator perceives the photographed object. 1 When he 
selects the camera viewpoint the camera-man determines the spectator's relation- 

1 Technically, the camera viewpoint is the point at which the camera is set up, in 
conjunction with the direction of the optical axis of the lens. But the angle at which the 
spectator perceives the screened film also depends, although in lesser degree, on his view 
of the screen during projection of the film. Here the essential factors are the angle at which 
the spectator perceives the screen, and also the size of the screen. — N. 



Fig. 12. — Change of viewpoint for direct perception of action. 

ship to the object photographed. With every change in the viewpoint there is 
a change in the spectator's perception of the object, and therefore in the meaning 
and significance of that object. 

Ordinarily we see surrounding reality from innumerable viewpoints. But 
our visual notion of the perceived objects is preserved in our memory only in the 
form corresponding to the most frequently repeated forms of our perception. If 
we think of a man walking along the street, as in Fig. 12, we see that his view 
changes its direction with every step. 

As we glance around at surrounding objects, we obtain an unbroken series of 
visual impressions, which provoke ideas of the form and peculiar features of the 
objects we have seen. Since our memory retains only those visual ideas corre- 
sponding to the most frequently repeated aspects of what we see, we evoke in the 
cinema audience associations of an object only if we shoot that object in a customary 
aspect, which does not differ from the customary visual notion of it. 

In cinematographic construction we pick out the shot object from its sur- 
roundings by fixing it within the frame limits. By doing so we violate the con- 
tinuity of visual perception, only to recreate it in a different form by means of 
editing. By transferring the object to the abstract space and time of the shot, 
we compel the emergence of a visual idea of it in different associations, i.e. by 
revealing the content, the significance of the object in a new expressive form. 
Naturally, this changes the character of our perception of the object shot, so there 
cannot be absolute identity between the everyday viewpoint and that of an object 
shown on the screen. 

When we take a long-shot of a scene from any point, the camera-angle gives 
a picture of the scene which is that of an ' outside observer '. If we bring the 
camera within the mise en scene, and break the scene up into mid-shots and close- 
ups, the picture acquires the viewpoint of the persons taking part in the scene, 
and reveals the shot objects in the form in which these perceive them. In other 
words, by giving the camera such a viewpoint we reveal the actual sensations 
provoked in the actors by the surrounding objects. In such viewpoints the 
cinema camera is brought into the action of the scene, and picks out shots cor- 
responding to the momentary glances and sensations of those taking part. This 
complex projection of the camera into the mise en scene y conditioned by the logic 
of the scenario's editing scheme, engenders the emotional intensity and reality 



which differentiate creative cinema construction from an informative ' news 

In selecting the camera viewpoint the basic principle for the camera-m 
is the motivation of such a viewpoint, its task as laid down by the scenario. I 
general form this motivation may be determined by the narrative developme 
of the scene being filmed. In the course of the narrative the actor passes fror 
spot to spot in accordance with the scheme drawn up by the director. Thes 
successive movements force the camera-man to change the viewpoint. Th 
camera shifts accordingly, and so we can build up a scheme of camera movemen 
parallel to those of the actor, and revealing the consequential, logical charact 
of the changes from one camera viewpoint to another. 

Supposing that in one shot of a scene the actor glances at a building outsid 
which he is standing. He sees the building from below, so in the followin 
shot a view of the building taken from a viewpoint below it will be a logical sue 
cession to the actor's glance. We put the camera in the actor's place and shov 
the building as he sees it. In other words, we place the spectator in the positior 
of the actor. 

Like the logical distribution of the continuous action into camera-angles 
the employment of transitions from one viewpoint to another, logically motivatec 
by the narrative, only came into cinematic practice as an elementary form o:i 
scenario construction when the cinema abandoned the stage traditions of its earl} 
period, and created those primary elements specific to it. In the early days of the 
cinema, scenes were filmed entirely from one viewpoint, the camera remained ir 
one spot throughout the process, and this single viewpoint of the object corre- 
sponded to the fixed viewpoint of the spectator in a theatrical auditorium. As 
soon as the first distribution of shots into camera-angles occurred, the earners 
viewpoint gained more freedom. But the old principle of a ' single ' viewpoinl i 
still held sway, as is shown by the fact that the viewpoint was changed only along 
the optical axis of the lens. Technical progress in optics enabled us to shift 
the object nearer or farther along the line of the optical axis without moving the 
camera itself. Cameras were constructed with lenses swiftly changed by means 
of a revolving attachment. By merely changing the lenses, the camera-man could 
alternate long-shot, mid-shot and close-up. But the viewpoint always remained 
outside the scene, and so the entire picture retained a merely illustrative quality. 
The creation of an elementary editing theory led to further freedom of viewpoint, 
and thus developed the method of determining the viewpoint we have described 
above, constructed on a logical, narrative motivation for every transition to a new 

In addition to the logical narrative development, the formal representational 
features of the object filmed can also motivate one or another viewpoint. In 
certain instances the correct choice of viewpoint consists in fixing a view of the 
object in which the specific features of its construction are most fully and expres- 
sively revealed. And for this an important factor is the discovery of the true 
geometrical projection of the three-dimensional object in the two-dimensional 
plane of the shot. 

Consider the sketches of a building given in Fig. 13. They are based on 
photographs taken from various viewpoints. 

In Fig. 13A we have a frontal view of the building in symmetrical plan. A 
central viewpoint from average height has been chosen. If we preserve the sym- 
metrical plan, but lower the viewpoint somewhat, we get Fig. 13B. Here the 
predominant feature becomes the statue, which is sharply defined against a back- 



s ground of sky. In addition, such a viewpoint gives us a perspective of the wings 
not existing in the previous illustration. 

Shifting the viewpoint to the left, we get a diagonal view of the building, 
I: which preserves the general balance of the composition, but endows the repre- 
en sentation itself with a relatively dynamic quality. Fig. 13c is a sketch based on 
)ii photographs taken from such a viewpoint. 

In Fig. 1 3D the viewpoint is shifted to the right, and nearer to the building. 
PhtfThe right arch is differentiated from the others by disproportionate enlargement, 
% and becomes a dominating factor in the composition. 
etc) In Fig. 13E the viewpoint is lowered. The building is thrown backward 

and its architectural unity is lost. 
i By raising the viewpoint above the average height, we get Fig. 13F. The 

mf statue is thrown against the background of the columns, and the building as a whole 
uc- loses its monumental quality. 

31 This brief example of compositional construction of a static object reveals 

in t the paramount importance of correct choice of camera viewpoint. In certain 
cases, when the camera-man is faced with the necessity- of displaying the specific 
es features of a certain type of architecture for instance, his choice of viewpoint is 
ec! dependent to some extent on this circumstance. For instance, the balanced 
statics of a Renaissance building demand symmetrical, frontal composition, and 
A so dictate a central viewpoint, whereas Baroque architecture needs predominantly 
hi a viewpoint to one side, in order to reveal the dynamics of the lines and planes of 
if; the projecting pediments, cornices, etc. Here we are directly dependent on the 
e> nature of the building, for by a simple change of viewpoint we can change the 
\i impression of the photographed object, either emphasising its characteristic 
n 1 features, or completely suppressing them by the deliberate choice of another view- 

Hitherto we have been discussing single cases of static construction, in which 
the choice of viewpoint is motivated chiefly by the specific features of the object 
in its various aspects. The correct choice of viewpoint is just as essential when 
we are shooting a continuous process, since on it depends the exposition of the 

essence of that process. Supposing that we have to take several shots of a potter 
i at work, showing the most important details of the process. If we shoot him from 

a viewpoint level with him, as in Fig. 14, the result is only a general presentation 
j of the form of the potter's wheel and his position when working. Such a view- 
i point does not reveal the characteristic features of the potter's process. But if we 

1 choose a viewpoint from above, we get the photograph shown in Fig. 15. In this 
picture the essence of the process is clearly revealed, and so provides a motivation 
justifying the choice of viewpoint from above. 

In this example we have not touched upon the question of the aesthetics of 
compositional construction. Of course the aesthetics of construction cannot be 
isolated from the problem of displaying the object's functions and the specific 
features of its form and spatial situation. But whereas the predominating factor 
in the composition of a scientific, technical or educational film is the display of 
the object's functions, in artistic construction the predominating factor is the 
organically combined display of the function of the shot in an aesthetically signific- 
ant composition. It is highly essential to take the aesthetic factor into account 
when choosing the viewpoint of an object, but there are no hard and fast rules or 
compositional canons to govern this problem. The camera-man will only be 
able to display the most important of the complexity of factors influencing per- 
ception when he has a thoroughly clear understanding of the scenario-editing 



Fig. 13A. — Influence of viewpoint <. 
the character of the photograph: 
reproduction of architecture. V: 
have a frontal view of the buildir 
in symmetrical plan. A centr 
viewpoint from average height h 
been chosen. If we preserve tl 
symmetrical plan, but lower tl 
viewpoint somewhat, we g 
Fig. 13B. 

Fig. 13B. — Here the predominant fe; 
ture becomes the statue, which 
sharply defined against a bad 
ground of sky. In addition, sue 
a viewpoint gives us a perspectiv 
of the wings not existing in tl 
previous illustration. 


Fig. 13c. — Shifting the viewpoint 
the left, we get a diagonal view 
the building, which preserves th 
general balance of the compositior 
but endows the representation itsel 
with a relatively dynamic quality. 

construction of the given episode or scene, and so can ascertain the correct motiva 
tion for the viewpoint in each separate shot. 

The choice of viewpoint plays just as important a role in shooting a moving 
object, for here we are set the task of displaying the character of the movement ir 
its clearest and most expressive form. We will analyse several typical examples 
such as are frequently found in cinematic practice, of constructing objects in i 

First Example. — From a static viewpoint we have a shot of a moving object 
against a static background. The direction, speed and character of the move- 
ment are perceived by the spectator in their relation to the static background. 
In this case the background plays a secondary role, remaining in an unchanged 
position throughout the shot, whereas the moving object is continually under- 
going change. The camera viewpoint is chosen with the purpose of concen- 
trating the spectator's attention on the moving object. 


Ph! FiG 


1 3D. — The viewpoint is shifted to 
the right and nearer to the building. 
The right arch is differentiated 
from the others by disproportion- 
ate enlargement, and becomes a 
dominating factor in the com- 

Fig. 13E. — The viewpoint is lowered. 
The building is thrown backward 
and its architectural unity is lost. 


Fig. 13F. — By raising the viewpoint 
above the average height we get 
Fig 13F. The statue is thrown 
against the background of the 
columns, and the building as a 
whole loses its monumental quality. 

An illustration of the above is a man moving across the screen, with a street 
and houses motionless in the background. 

Second Example. — The viewpoint is motionless, the shot showing a static 
'foreground object and dynamic background. The dynamism is conveyed by 
the movement of the background alone, and so it becomes the basic compositional 
1 factor, and is continually changing throughout the shot. In choosing our view-point 
the first thing we have to consider is the change of background, and the position 
1 of the new objects coming within the frame of the shot during the shooting process. 

An illustration is a man standing motionless in the foreground, with his back 
to the camera. The background is formed by a procession passing across the 
screen. New persons are continually coming into the shot, passing out beyond 
the frame limit. 

Third example. — With a moving-camera viewpoint, the shot shows a motion- 
less foreground object and moving background. If the background moves in the 




4. — Profile (frontal) 

same direction as the camera viewpoint, and the latter 's speed is synchronise" 
with the former, the background becomes static, and so we get the same resul 
as that of the first example, namely, a moving object against a motionless back 

A good illustration is provided by a worker standing motionless at a conveyoi 
The camera moves parallel to the conveyor's movement, and so one section c 
the conveyor is fixed within the frame limits, and the sense of movement is lost 
The worker's figure passes across the shot field of vision. 


15. — Viewpoint from 



Fourth example. — A moving object is made to appear motionless. The 
camera viewpoint is chosen to ensure that, provided the object is moving in the 
same direction and at the same speed as the viewpoint, the background is excluded 
from the field of vision. As in consequence any movement of the object could 
only be perceived in relation to the frame limits, it is made to appear motionless. 
To illustrate this, take a mid-shot of a walking man, against the background 
of a cloudless sky. The camera moves parallel to the man. Provided that no 
tendency to movement has been suggested in the shot immediately preceding it 
in the editing sequence, the sense of dynamism will be lacking. 

Fifth example. — The viewpoint revolves around its centre, while the object 
and background are static, so that the impression of a turn is conveyed. The 
viewpoint revolves around the optic axis of the lens. 

In illustration, consider the effect of filming a group of people in a square 
from above. During the process the camera turns on the optical axis of the 
lens. On the screen the entire square revolves. (This kind of shot can be taken 
without moving the camera, by means of a special revolving prism.) 

The unbroken movement of the camera viewpoint in a vertical or horizontal 
direction, or in the direction of the optical axis of the lens, overcomes the restric- 
tions of the frame limts as a kind of permanent margin closing the shot field of 
vision. We achieve this effect in all pan (panorama) shots, and also in tracking 
shots, in which the camera moves towards or away from the object. This change 
of viewpoint results in an unbroken change in the picture picked out by the 
frame limits, and so in the image thrown on the screen. 

We have specified only a few of the most typical examples of the extensive 
possibilities of exploiting the camera viewpoint in compositional construction. 
Obviously, there are many other ways of combining the dynamic and static 
| elements in the frame. The viewpoint must be chosen in each case in accordance 
I with the motivation provided by the scenario. And it is impossible to foresee 
I and list all the variety of scenario motivations and the methods of realising 
I them. 

But we must consider one other factor. Not infrequently camera-men avoid 
resorting to ' extreme ' viewpoints, by which they mean those looking perpendicu- 
i larly down or up at an object. They try to keep to the ' usual view ', assuming 
that by so doing they express the scenario purpose in a more ' intelligible ' repre- 
sentational form. Thus a set standard arises, and the camera-man loses one of 

Fig. i 6. — Viewpoint from 




his valuable assets : the ability to reveal the shot content in a distinctly orig 
form corresponding to any one of the possible positions of the surroumbj 
reality. Suppose a scenario contains the following shot : " Looking out of (hi 
window, he sees a man striding energetically along the pavement." We cell 
shoot this scene by a long-shot at normal height, and the man would be recec^ 
in the distance. But we could also use this shot to convey the sensation ( 
momentary downward glance, and then we should get a viewpoint similar to 1 a 
of Fig. 1 6. 

Here we get the strongly defined movement of a man striding along a squ;e 
cobbled road. The nature of the road strikes the eye ; it is emphasised by he 
camera viewpoint ; and we can distinguish the rectangular shape of each sepajfa 
stone. From such a viewpoint the regular movements of arms and legs acia 
unbroken rhythmic strokes. Dynamism becomes the basic, predominant elemn 
in the composition. Out of a momentary glance a long-remembered impressir 
is created : one stronger than if the shot had been taken from the * usual ' viw- 
point. Undoubtedly such a method gives organic, and not merely mechanai 
expression to the task we were set. 

But this example must not be regarded as confirmation of the supremacy di 
1 original ' over ' usual ' viewpoints. In this case we were given an exact instr:- 
tion, which served as our motivation for choosing a viewpoint from above. Th-e 
was no need to avoid the vertical in looking at the object ; on the contrary, le 
very task dictated that viewpoint, and in such cases the camera-man need have I 
fear that the representational form will be ' unintelligible \ Such ' unintellii- 
bility ' to the perception only occurs when there is no corresponding motivatin 
for such a viewpoint in the editing construction of the scenario. Then sucla 
view definitely constitutes a formalistic approach to the task, in other wor<$, 
there is a discrepancy between the constructional form and its intended purpo;, 
And so we get the self-sufficient aestheticism of ' original ' foreshortening, whi'-b 
we frequently come across in cinematography. 

We must now consider the interaction of the viewpoint with the other com- 
positional elements. In any compositional construction of a long-shot we cl 
clearly establish that the height of the horizon functionally depends upon t: 
chosen camera viewpoint. If we film our object from the lowest viewpoint, i , 
from ground level, the shot will not show any horizon, for the latter will be bek, 
the lower limit of the frame. As we raise the viewpoint, so the horizon line wl 
come into and rise in the shot. But if we reach the highest viewpoint, in whir 
the optic axis of the lens is directed vertically downward, the horizon line w 
disappear above the upper limit of the frame. This invariable dependence 
the horizon height upon the level of the viewpoint is a highly important factor 
compositional construction. 

Figs. 17 and 18 show the changes in the character of the image arising froi 
a change in the viewpoint and the horizon. The dotted line h-h 1 marks tl 
horizon line in both illustrations. 

In the first case, owing to the lower viewpoint the horizon has dropped, ar 
simultaneously the distant perspective creating the impression of depth has di 
appeared. In the second case the raised viewpoint brings the horizon line aero 
the middle of the picture. Here the landscape perspective is clearly visib 
through the span of the arches. 

In cinema construction changing the camera viewpoint in order arbitrari 
to change the height of the horizon in the shot is utilised as a compositional methoi 
By raising or dropping the horizon on the shot we can set the chief object beir 


IG. 17. — Relation between height ft 
of viewpoint and height of 


ig. 18. — Relation between height 
of viewpoint and height of 

ilmed either against the light background of the sky and clouds or the dark back- 
ground of the earth. 

A change of camera viewpoint upward or downward is not only of decisive 
mportance in determining the height of the horizon, but also has considerable 
nfluence upon the spatial situation of the main object being filmed. This brings 
is to the question of foreshortening, which we must now discuss. 

In the representational technique of the cinema, foreshortening is taken to 
nean the perspective situation of the object, in which, viewed from any angle, 
t is traversed by the plane perpendicular to the optical axis of the lens. When 
:he vertical and horizontal axes of the object exactly coincide with the plane per- 
pendicular to the optical axis of the lens we can conditionally say that there will 
|3e no foreshortening in the image. In practice there is complete absence of 
foreshortening only in exceptional cases, when we photograph plane surfaces all 
jthe points of which are disposed perpendicularly to the optical axis of the lens. 
(But the usual shot of a three-dimensional object always involves the presence of 
a certain amount of foreshortening, sometimes so insignificant that it is imper- 
ceptible to the eye directly perceiving the image. 

Owing to the influence of the perspective disposition of the objects over the 
{ plane of the frame, foreshortening leads to a perspective shortening of the linear 
j dimensions of the object on the one hand, and on the other creates the impression 
that the object is being directed into the depth, or alternatively out of the depth 
of the shot. Because of this effect, foreshortening is one of the most powerful 
(expressive resources in the dynamic organisation of frame space. 

By foreshortening the construction of the object in the shot, while following 



Fig. 19. — Motivation for foreshortening construction. 

the associative laws governing perception of the screen image, the camera-man 
can achieve psychological effects, quite peculiar in the strength of their impres- 
sion, which will reveal the significance of the object being shot, and interpret it 
in the sense laid down by the scenario. To make this clear we will give one or 
two examples. 

The psychological and emotional effect of foreshortening can be demon- 
strated by a number of shots from Pudovkin (director) and Golovnya's (camera- 
man) picture " Mother ". The depression, grief, and despair expressed by the 
actors are psychologically intensified by foreshortenings achieved by filming from 
a viewpoint slightly higher than the normal. As the result the actors appear to 



Fig. 20. — Motivation for 

foreshortening construction. 

be crushed to the ground. " Mother " also provides an example of foreshortening 
which has become ' classic ' in cinematic practice. I refer to the shot of the 
policeman, in which foreshortening produced by filming from a viewpoint lower 
than normal intensifies the impression of towering strength conveyed by this 
agent of Tsarist autocracy. 

There is a sequence in " Potemkin " in which the camera-man Iisse has 
achieved a symbolic awakening of sculptured lions at the first shots from the 
insurgent battleship. He gets this effect by successive modification of the fore- 
shortening in each shot, followed by constructive editing. In the same film he 
employs foreshortening to demonstrate the mechanical might of the battleship, 



filming details which, despite the static quality of individual shots, in their repre 
sentational form have a sharply expressed dynamic quality, linked by the genera 
editing composition of the film. 

The decision as to the foreshortening to be given to any object when composing 
the shot is closely connected with the choice of camera viewpoint. Here we musi 
ditstinguish the three most typical kinds of motivation for any given foreshortening 

To begin with, one motivation for foreshortening construction is found ir 
the necessity for the camera viewpoint to reveal the viewpoint of the actor. Hen 
we have a direct connection between the viewpoint and the ascertained fore 
shortening of the subject. Figs. 19 and 20 show such a connection. 

In Fig. 19 the foreshortening of the details of the building is determined b) 
the viewpoint of the actor as he stands gazing at the building from below. His 
viewpoint motivates the choice of this form of foreshortening. In Fig. 20 we 
have the same motivation, but the foreshortening is that of a side viewpoint deter- 
mined by a side glance of the actor. 

Secondly, foreshortening may be conditioned by special psychological needs, 
involving an associative juxtaposition of two objects. By employing foreshortening 
we confirm the resemblance between two different objects. Fig. 21, a shot from 
" The End of St. Petersburg " (Pudovkin and Golovnya), gives such an instance. 
In the great majority of cases this type of foreshortening juxtaposition arises 
out of the editing tasks of the scene. 

Thirdly, the necessity for severe foreshortening construction may arise out 
of the specific peculiarities of form appertaining to the object shot. An instance 
is provided by Baroque achitecture. In order to display the structural features 
of this architectural order we must resort to foreshortening construction from 
one side. 

Foreshortening of the object in the shot as a factor in composition is in 
inseparable functional inter-action with the choice of camera viewpoint, its per- 
spective, and the optical characteristics of the lens, which also influence the 
nature and degree of the foreshortening. 


Perspective in all its various forms is at the basis of a realistic perception and 
organisation of seen space. The essence of realistic organisation of space in repre- 
sentational technique consists in the last resort in transmitting, on the two- 
dimensional plane of the image, the optical impression of objects distributed at 
varying distances from the eyes. In their general form the laws of construction 
of perspective correspond with the laws governing our physical sight. 

The farther the object is situated from our eyes, the smaller and less distinct 
it appears to us. And this conditions the system of the perspective view of space. 

As in pictorial art, we recognise two main forms of perspective construction : 
linear perspective, the effect of which is achieved by organising the graphic elements 
of representation, and aerial perspective, achieved by the tone of the image, and 
the distribution of light and shade. We must consider certain factors involved in 
the transmission of linear perspective in the cinema. 

If we imagine a series of parallel planes distributed in the order of their 
successive distances from us, and project parallel lines through those planes, we 
get the impression of a gradual convergence of those parallel lines upon a single 
point, which is called the point of convergence or vanishing point. All the horizon- 
tal, vertical and sloping lines distributed over the plane of the image undergo an 
illusory abbreviation as they approach the horizon and the vanishing point. 



re i 

Fig. 21. — Foreshortening 

construction motivated by 

editing factors. 

If the perspective of the object is so constructed that the point of convergence 
is also the central point of the illusory or actual horizon line, the result is an 
orthographic frontal construction with a central vanishing point, involving sym- 
metrical composition. 

An example of symmetrical composition built up on a perspective with a 
central vanishing point is given in Figs. 22 and 23, taken from Hobbema's 
picture : " Avenue at Middleharnis ". 

By shifting the vanishing point to one side of the central point of the 
horizon, we get a side view of the object in its spatial distribution, in other words, 
an asymmetrical construction. 

If we place the vanishing point at the height of the human eye, we get a 
normal perspective, corresponding to the most usual conception of space. In 
this case the horizon line will also be at average height. But if we lower the 
vanishing point, and consequently shift the horizon of the image in the same 



Fig. 22. — Hobbema's picture " Avenue at Middleharnis 

direction, all the details of the lower part of the image will be perceived in strong 
perspective foreshortening. If we do the opposite, i.e. raise the vanishing point 
and consequently the horizon line, all the details in the upper part of the image 
will undergo perspective foreshortening. And if we shift the vanishing point still 
higher, we shall arrive at the ' bird's eye perspective '. 

Consideration of the system of perspective unity reveals the functional 
dependence of a number of compositional factors in their spatial interaction. 
Whether illusory or actual, the horizon line is of tremendous importance both in 
regard to the height of the field of vision, and in creating the impression of depth 
in the image. Meantime the situation of the horizon line is linked up with the 
choice of viewpoint, and this latter in turn determines the distortion of the object 
and its distantial plane. On the height of the horizon line depends the predomin- 
ance in the image of details situated below, or details situated above that line. 
It a painter is most interested in representing the fields, trees and structures in a 
given landscape, he chooses a higher viewpoint, the horizon line is raised, and 
these details predominate. But if the composition of the image is based on the 
predominance of details situated above the horizon, then, of course, he chooses a 
lower viewpoint. 

Such are the elementary rules of linear perspective which are necessary to our 
further argument. 

Of what importance are the laws of linear perspective in the compositional 
construction of a cinematic image ? 

Before we can answer this question we must point out certain peculiarities, 



Fig. 23. — Compositional scheme in Hobbema's picture. 

specific to the cinema, which confront us when we apply to cinema the laws of 
linear perspective governing the graphic arts. 

Although linear perspective as a method of seeing and representing was 
known as early as the fifteenth century, almost every artist from that day to this 
has used compositional constructions which modify the true relationships between 
the actual dimensions and the position of the represented objects. These modi- 
fications are the result of the artist's attempt to present his personages in the most 
impressive and outstanding form possible, in other words, to represent them as 
being at a comparatively close distance while the architectural and landscape 
background is represented as being at a greater distance, so enabling him to 
reproduce as large a section as possible of the seen world on the small field of the 
picture. In his work Mathematics and Painting Georg Wolff made mathematical 
investigations into a number of the best-known productions of the greatest masters 
of the Renaissance, and came to the conclusion that in many cases there was 
deliberate violation of the laws of linear perspective. These violations, which in 
the artist's own days were called ' errors ', came about as the result of the artist's 
attempt to convey his artistic intention as expressively as possible, and to reveal 
that intention in his compositional construction. Wolff writes 1 : 

Schilling and Viner noted that Paul Veronese, the brilliant representative of pictorial 
art of the Renaissance, adopted, in his large picture " Marriage at Cana ", painted as 
early as the latter half of the sixteenth century, seven vanishing points and five horizons. 
A closer study of this picture would reveal many more. . . . 

1 George Wolff, Mathematik und Malerei. — N. 
5 1 


Raphael also similarly abandoned the logic of construction (the boat in the pictur 
" The Miraculous Draught of Fishes " is small out of all proportion to the figures' 
The same can be said of Leonardo da Vinci (" Secret of the Evening ") and all th 
other great masters. 

In his picture " Secret of the Evening " Leonardo da Vinci did not subject certai: 
details to the general law of perspective composition. For instance, the distribution of th 
crimson carpets on the walls and the foreshortening of the plate standing on the table 
By these means the artist was able to conceal the lack of correspondence between the seal 
of the figures and the architecture. Leonardo da Vinci put too many carpets on the walls 
so creating the impression of depth. As for the plate on the table, in relation to the con 
struction as a whole it is not given the foreshortening it should have if the laws of linea 
perspective were to be strictly observed. But because of this seeming geometrical error 
the image of the plate most substantially transmits the easily recognised and most customar 
form of the object, for we most easily recognise the content of that pictorial representatioi 
of objects to which we are visually accustomed. 

There are further examples of this abandonment of the rules of linear perspective ii 
Raphael's picture " The School of Athens ", in which the columns of the portico seen 
unusually high in relation to the figures, yet in reality do not exceed twice the height o 
a man. 

Farther on, in a comment on the German art historian Schreiber, 1 Wolfi 
makes the following remarks concerning Albrecht Diirer's picture " Saint Jerome 
in his Study ". 

However, if Jerome were to stand up, we should be greatly surprised. For he would 
prove to be a disproportionate figure with short legs and an exaggeratedly long torso. 
The saint would almost reach the ceiling, and his hat, hanging above him on the wall, 
would be incredibly large for his head. 

Such discrepancies between the foreshortenings, the scale of the figures and 
the surroundings, in works of which the artistic quality and compositional unity 
are unviolated, are a frequent phenomenon in the history of art. Wolff's book 
provides a detailed analysis of them. We are interested not so much in deter- 
mining the actual fact of departure from the laws of true geometrical perspective 
in any one pictorial production as in the reasons which led the artist to ignore 
those laws. We shall consider the example already referred to : Diirer's work 
" St. Jerome in his Study ". 

If Diirer had exactly retained a true geometrical perspective, the figure 
sitting at the table would either have been completely lost in the room, or, if it 
had been brought nearer, only part of the wall with fortuitous bits of furniture 
and utensils would have been visible behind the large figure of St. Jerome. But 
the content of the work demanded the expressive isolation of the figure of Jerome 
against the surroundings presented in detail, and emphasising by their character 
the specific atmosphere of philosophic contemplation and profound peace. Obvi- 
ously the psychological effect would have been lost if the artist had not ignored 
certain laws of linear perspective. 

So that in pictorial art the problem of the expressive organisation of space 
is not infrequently resolved at the expense of a certain deviation from the laws of 
linear perspective. Is such an arbitrary modification of perspective relationships 
possible in photography also ? 

The photographic lens in its normal application will always give us a repre- 
sentation defined and limited by the laws of optics, in the sense of transmitting a 
geometrical perspective. The task is also complicated by the fact that the angle 
of vision of the present-day cinematic lens also has its limits. For these reasons, 
as a means of effecting arbitrary changes in the perspective inter-relationships 
1 Schreiber, Malerische Perspektiv. — N. 


J yith the aid only of the usual methods of photographing, the employment of linear 

j >erspective has definite limits. But the camera-man can resort to a number of 

echnical methods which will enable him to some extent to go farther than the 

transmission of space in the form of a primitive reproduction. Among these 

j nethods are the employment of special lenses which cannot be used in the so- 

|; ailed simple ' record ' shot. By choosing his lens the camera-man can modify 

he perspective to some extent, so creating the illusion of greater or less depth 

] o the image. And by resorting to certain methods of combined photographing 

i t is not impossible to combine in one frame a number of objects not geometrically 

issociated in perspective unity. 

Thus, in transmitting space by methods of linear perspective the camera- 
nan's chief task is not to make a simple ' record ' reproduction of the object, 
put to achieve an expressive organisation of the dimensions and space within the 
frame, with the aid of the representational resources available to cinematographic 

Hitherto, in so far as we have been speaking of static perspective construction, 
the foregoing considerations equally apply to simple photographic representation. 
The cinema shot introduces a new factor into perspective unity, which we may 
;all the kinetic of perspective construction. The movement of the object along 
he main line of vision into the depth of the frame, or along the diagonal of the 
rame, at a certain angle towards the main line of vision, creates a dynamic per- 
spective not only in the sense of the dynamism of the lines projected into the 
depth, but also in that of the movement of the objects themselves in the frame, 
in the cinematographic representation this perspective movement is perceived 
differently from its perception in reality. A number of laws govern the cinematic 
transmission of the illusion of perspective movement, and on these laws the theory 
pf cine-perspective is based. 

A mathematical theory of cine-perspective, establishing the inter-relation- 
ships between the representation of the object on the plane of the screen and its 
novement in space and time has been worked out by A. N. Rinin. 

We think it desirable to give his thirteen basic theorems of cine-perspective. 
The reader will find their mathematical bases in his work Cine-perspective and its 
Application in Aviation. 1 

Theorem i. (The law of relativity in cine-perspective.) If an object is 
moving in space according to a given law, and the camera is motionless, the change 
of its perspective in the picture will be the same as if the camera moved according 
to the same law, but in an opposite direction, while the object was motionless. 

Theorem 2. If the object moves along the main ray its perspective is in 
converse proportion to its retrogression from the lens. 

Theorem 3. Given the same movement, the speed of change of perspective 
is in converse proportion to its retrogression from the lens. 

Theorem 4. Given the same movement, the speed of change of perspective 
is in direct proportion to the square of the speed of the object and in converse 
proportion to the cube of the object's retrogression from the lens. 

Theorem 5. Given the movement of a plane figure parallel to the picture 
dlong the main ray, the area and clarity of its perspective changes in proportion 
to the square of the relation of the focussing distance to its retrogression from 
the lens. 2 

1 Published by the Section for Aero-Photography of the Scientific Research Institute 
For Aviation, Leningrad, 1932, p. 75. — N. 

2 ' Clarity of the perspective ' is the relation of its area to the area of the figure. — N K 




Theorem 6. Given the same movement, the speed of change of the area c 
the perspective is in direct proportion to the speed of the figure and the squar 
of the focussing distance, and in converse proportion to the cube of the distanc 
to the lens. 

Theorem 7. Given the same movement, the speed of change of the area c 
the perspective is in direct proportion to the square of the focussing distanc 
and the speed of the figure, and in converse proportion to the degree of distanc 
from the lens. 

Theorem 8. The depth 1 of the perspective of the object is in direct pro 
portion to the focussing length and in converse proportion to the square of th 
distance from the object to the lens. 

(Note. — The analogous theorems (3, 4, 5, 6 and 7) are deduced in regard to a mov< 
ment of the object not along but parallel to the main ray.) 

Theorem 9. Given the movement of a line parallel to the main ray, alonj 
itself, the dimension of its image is proportional to the focussing distance, it 
distance from the main ray, and its dimension, and is in converse proportion t< 
the projection of the space between its two ends to a neutral plane. 2 

Theorem 10. Given the same movement, the speed of movement of am 
point of the perspective is in proportion to the speed of the corresponding poin 
in space, and in converse proportion to the speed of the retrogression of th( 
point in space from the neutral plane. 

Theorem 11. Given the movement of a point parallel to the picture, th< 
speed of movement of its perspective is in proportion to the speed of movemem 
of the point itself and the focussing distance, and in converse proportion to the 
retrogression of the line of movement of the point from the lens. 

Theorem 12. Given the movement of a perpendicular line parallel to the 
picture, the dimension of the perspective changes in direct proportion to the 
retrogression of the line from the main plane 3 and in converse proportion to the 
distance of its ends from the neutral plane. 

Theorem 13. Given the same movement, the speed of movement of perspec- 
tive of any point along a line is in proportion to the speed of movement of the 
line itself, and in converse proportion to the retrogression of a point on the same 
line from the neutral plane. 

We must close this section with a few words on aerial perspective. 

In linear perspective the impression of spatial depth is created mainly by 
the distribution of dimensions and the lines marking them. But in aerial per- 
spective the same effect is achieved by the tonal differentiation of planes and 
dimensions, distributed at various distances from the foreground. The closer 
the object is to the foreground, the more intensively do our eyes perceive light 
and shade, and the stronger are the light contrasts of the image. 

Our impression of the form and outline of the object also changes equally 
in correspondence with the object's distantial relationship to the foreground. At 
a close distance the object is clearly outlined, and as it recedes into the depths 
of the image it loses its distinct outlines and is perceived as a tonal mass. 

Aerial perspective is in direct dependence upon the laws of the strength of 

1 ' Depth of the perspective ' is the relation of the height of the perspective of the 
body's depth to its actual depth.— AT. 

2 ' Neutral plane ' denotes the plane passing through the centre of the lens parallel 
to the picture. — N. 

3 ' Main plane ' is used to denote the plane perpendicular to the picture, passing 
through the centre of the lens and parallel to one (vertical) side of the picture. — N. 



he light, reflection, and nature of the sources of the light. The camera-man 
t ot only possesses means of arbitrarily changing the correlationships of linear 
erspective, but also can change the nature of the transmission of aerial perspective. 
Ve shall deal with this question in more detail in the section devoted to the light 
nd tone of the image. 


The notion of the real world and its space obtained by direct visual perception 
5 based on binocular vision. But the construction of the cinematographic image 
n the plane of the frame is achieved through the monocular action of the photo- 
raphic lens. The optical system embodied in the cinematograph camera is an 
Intermediary technical means of constructing the form and outlining the details 
f the image in the shot. The character of cinematographic representation 
impends on the specific peculiarities of this optical system. So we may regard 
ptics in its various forms of creative exploitation as a compositional resource. 

Judged from the aspect of its technical attributes, the photographic lens 
assesses a number of technical constants. For the purpose of our present theme 
ve are interested in the focal length of the lens, its angle of vision, the degree 
o which the optical system corrects the chief optical defects, and the depth of 
ocus available to the lens. 

By changing the focal length we can bring the camera viewpoint nearer to 
he object photographed, along the line of the optical axis, in other words, the 
ocal length of the lens determines the size of the image in the frame. Without 
hanging the camera viewpoint, by selecting a lens with suitable focal length we can 
•ring the object nearer or shift it farther away, so changing the size of the image. 

An increase in the focal length involves a reduction of the lens angle of vision, 
nd this interdependence of two optical constants also determines the character 
»f the perspective transmission of the object photographed. A short-focus lens 
iattens the perspective, while increasing the height and breadth of the object 
>hotographed. A long-focus lens deepens the perspective, while reducing the 
teight and breadth of the objects situated in the foreground. 

The focal length and the lens angle of vision modify the projection of the 
etual object in the plane of the frame, for any change in the perspective distri- 
>ution of the details affects not only the depth of the image, but also the appearance 
»f the individual objects themselves. Figs. 24 and 25 show the difference in the 
>ptical transmission when an object is photographed from the same viewpoint, 
>ut with lenses differing in focal length. 

In Fig. 24 the perspective diminution of the horizontal lines of the tower 
s insignificant, for a long-focus lens has been used. Here it is quite easy to 
ecognise the square form of the tower, whereas in Fig. 25, photographed with a 
hort-focus lens, the horizontal lines of the tower are sloped sharply towards the 
lorizon, and in consequence it is difficult at first glance to recognise the actual 
orm of the object. 

We will consider three examples of strong optical distortion of objects, 
ichieved solely by employing the appropriate lens. 

The first example shows an extension of the object along the frame verticals, 
"ig. 26 is a portrait taken with a long-focus lens. Here we get an optical trans- 
nission in close correspondence with the actual linear correlationships of the 
)bject. Fig. 27 gives the same object, but taken at a close distance with a short- 
bcus lens. Here the vertical extension is clearly evident, and the character of 
he face completely changes in consequence. 



Fig. 24. — Projection of a tower as taken 
by long- focus lens. 


25. — Projection of a tower as taken 
by short-focus lens. 

Our second example is that of the extension of the object along the horizontals. 
This is achieved with a special distorting optical accessory, the Jacquencrole lens. 
Fig. 28 gives an illustration of such an extension. 

Our third example is that of a sharp perspective distortion caused by photo- 
graphing the object with a short-focus lens at close distance. Fig. 29 illustrates 
this distortion. 

The camera-man can meet a number of expressive demands by intelligently 
exploiting these peculiarities of the optical system, which in the dawn of photog- 
raphy were regarded as ' optical defects ' of the lens. Many manuals of artistic 
photography still give exact instructions against any deviation from the ' normal 
optical transmission of the object photographed. 

The principle of naturalistic reproduction dominates every camera-man 
until, in the practice of his profession, he is forced to recognise optics as a vital 
means of expressively organising the object photographed, one which enables 
him to change the character and significance of the object in accordance with the 
needs of the scenario and the director. In certain cases, when the scenario 
demands a complete abandonment not only of primitive naturalistic reproduction, 
but of realistic transmission, he may and ought to make use of all the representa- 
tional resources at his disposal, including the peculiar qualities of optics. 

In order to complete our summary of the varied possibilities of exploiting 
optics we give one more example of paradoxical optical transmission. In this 
case we have not only distortion of the object in the ordinary sense of the words, 
but also the creation by optical means of a visual image which has no counterpart 
in reality. Fig. 30 reproduces a photograph taken with a special multiplying 
lens (the Jacquencrole). In the one picture we have a five-fold repetition of the 
same detail, a man's two eyes, while all the rest ot the portrait is transmitted 
without any perceptible distortion. Obviously the same optical accessory will 




Fig. 26. — Portrait taken by long-focus lens. 

Fig. 27. — The same portrait, taken by 
short-focus lens. 

mable us to achieve the effect of multiplication of any other detail of the 

The examples we have given illustrate certain possibilities of exploiting optics 
:o achieve a linear distortion of the object photographed. In these cases the 
distortion affects primarily the linear outline of the object and the linear correla- 
tionships of its details. Now we will consider another peculiarity of optical 
transmission, which plays no less part in the construction of the visual image. 

If our optical system is relatively entirely corrected against the basic defects 
arising in optics (spherical and chromatic aberration, astigmatism, coma, etc.) we 
jet a sharp image exactly reproducing the technical details of the object photo- 
graphed. But if certain of the optical defects are retained in the optical system, 
the image will be less sharp and distinct in its technical details. The lens will 
^ive a varying degree of sharpness of details, a varying softness of the image, 
according to the extent of the optical correction. This peculiar ability of an 
incompletely corrected lens to soften the details of the image is also exploited by 
camera-men as a means of giving expression to a specific scenario or directorial 

Judged from the aspect of this optical peculiarity, existing varieties of lenses 
can be classified in three main categories, according to their effects. 

The first effect is the sharp outline obtained by using lenses with good optical 
correction. In practice these lenses are called ' sharp ' or ' hard \ 

The second effect is the soft outline obtained by using lenses with incomplete 
optical correction. 

The third effect is that produced by lenses which soften the image not through- 
out its field, but only in certain parts. There are varieties of lenses which soften 
the edges of the image, and others which soften its centre. 

By using soft-focus lenses the camera-man can convey the dimensions of 



Fig. 28. 

-Perspective optical distortion 
of the object. 

the object, while partially or wholly obscuring its linear contours and details 
He can also exclude certain details from the field of vision, transmitting them 1 
indistinctly that the linear contour and detail are not perceptible to the spectator 
In this case he has a number of auxiliary resources at his disposal, such as specia 
optical attachments to the lens, diffusers, gauzes, etc. By creatively exploiting 
the various forms of optical transmission he can convey on the screen the specify 
peculiarities of an actor's subjective sensations. 

A weeping man, seeing his surroundings through his tears, a prisoner staring 
at the monstrously extended, hypertrophied profile of the judge, the comple? 
hallucination of an invalid — a number of features affecting the psychology o\ 
visual perception can be shown as the result of the intelligent exploitation of thf 
peculiarities of photographic optics. The camera-man must seek ways of directl) 
presenting an actor's sensations not by a theatrical demonstration of his reactions, 
but by an appropriate optical transmission of the environment as perceived by the 
actor in one form or another, and presented from his point of view. 

The depth of focus of a lens is usually regarded as only a technical constant, 
but it also plays a considerable part in the optical organisation of the visual image. 
As the lens' focal length is increased the depth of the focus is decreased. As a 
result the lens cannot longer simultaneously transmit with identical sharpness 
objects situated at varying distances from the camera viewpoint. But what is 
apparently a technical defect can be made to serve as an effective means of expres- 



;ve construction of the visual image. While transmitting the main object of 
le photograph, situated in the foreground, sharply and distinctly, we can com- 
letely eliminate all the background of the shot, by taking it out of focus, so 
mcentrating the spectator's attention on the main object. By using the long- 
>cus lens we cause the object to dominate the shot, for all the perspective depth 
: the image is reduced to a fluid flatness void of any definite outlines. 

All the methods of optically neutralising parts of the image by focus are based 
i the same principle. Here we shall mention two uses of focus as a representa- 
onal resource. 

Differential focus. — The main object, on which the spectator's attention has 
» be concentrated, is photographed in perfect focus, while all the surroundings 
•e transmitted with a varying lack of definition. This effect is frequently observ- 
)le in the photographing of close-ups. Here all the spectator's attention is to 
s concentrated on the play of the actor's face, and sharp transmission of the 
ackground would only distract his attention. The degree to which the depth of 
le shot is optically softened depends in every case upon the given scenic situation. 

Changing focus. — The shot depicts two actors talking to each other. First 
le of them is brought into focus, then the other. Thus in the course of a single 
lot the spectator's attention is transferred from one object to the other. 

We must once more emphasise that which method is expedient in any par- 
cular cases can only be decided by analysing the entire mise en scene and the 
:enic situation connected with it. The question calls for much thought and 
msideration, otherwise the result may prove to be very different from, and 
^ssibly quite the reverse of what was required. 

Imagine a situation in which an actor is placed in the foreground of a shot, 
id playing the chief part, while in the depth of the picture considerable move- 
ment, a fight for instance, is going on. By exploiting differential focus we achieve 
sharp transmission of the actor, concentrating the spectator's attention on him 
y softening the depth of the shot. But the effect of this may be quite the con- 
jrse of what we wanted. At first the spectator's attention will be concentrated 
1 the actor, since his sharply transmitted image will at once strike the eye. But 
len the attention will inevitably wander to the background, where considerable 

Fig. 29. — Plane optical distortion of the object. 



Fig. 30. — Repetition of detail of a face with aid 
of special multiplying lens. 

movement, transmitted in a softened and therefore not clearly distinguishabh 
form, is going on. As he cannot clearly recognise the details, the spectator wil 
concentrate his attention on endeavouring to make out what is happening, anc 
so it will not be directed to the point desired. 

Finally, we must note one other method of creatively exploiting the focussing 
process. By gradually bringing the object into and shifting it out of focus, w< 
achieve the impression of a successive materialisation and dematerialisation m 
the visual image. 

There is an example of this method in the shots showing the separator ir 
" General Line ", where it is exploited to express a specific scenario and directoria 
requirement. The gradual optical materialisation of the separator in these shots: 
is here deliberately linked up with the inculcation of the idea of collectivisation ir 
a simple form into the peasants' minds. 

Thus, when deciding upon the nature of the optical transmission of th< 
object, the camera-man is once more dependent upon the motivation, which h( 
derives from an analysis of the production scenario of the film both as a wholf 
and in its various editing sections. Sharp linear optical transmission, softenec 
presentation of the image, the various methods of optical distortion : all demanc 
subject and stylistic motivation, without which optics lose their significance as i 
specific means of expression, and become merely a matter of technique. 


The distribution and inter-relationships of the tonal transitions from black 
to white are a technical means of constructing the cinematic image. The light 



ind shade mould the dimensions, transmit the plane, provide spatial depth, and, 
;trictly speaking, even the linear and graphic details. 

The screen image is essentially a light reflection of the original reality, modi- 
ied to the extent conditioned by the influence of the laws of optics and photo- 
graphic transmission. Light is the main resource of photographic construction, 
ind without its primary organisational activity a photographic image is impossible. 

Two kinds of lighting, producing different visual effects, are used in the 

If direct, concentrated lighting is used, the photographic image is built up 
)f a harshly contrasting distribution of light and shade. The object's outline, 
ind the detail of its contours, are sharply revealed. Heavy shadows and clearly 
illuminated white surfaces predominate. 

With diffused lighting we get a soft, plastic distribution of light and shade. 
Half-shadows predominate in the image, while sharp, deep and clear lights are 
almost entirely absent. 

The tonal correlationships of the photographic image are in direct dependence 
upon the lighting of the object. 

In contradistinction from colour representation, painting for instance, in 
which the colours of an object play an essential role in the general construction 
of the image, ordinary photography has at its disposal only one greyish colour, 
which in transition from black to white forms tonal scales of varying gradations. 
The more numerous the intervening stages from black to white revealed by the 
image, the broader becomes its tonal scale, and the greater the gradation of 
semi-tones and shades of grey in the photograph. 

In photographic transmission with the aid of diffused lighting we get a broad 
tonal scale, and as the result semi-tones become the predominant element. On 
the other hand, harsh, contrasted lighting narrows the tonal scale, and when this 
is used extreme, intense tones predominate, and the image is built up of sharp 

We have already remarked that tonal correlationships play a decisive part 
in constructing aerial perspectives. A broad tonal scale distinctly transmits the 
finest gradations of aerial tones, and so we can convey the impression of tonal 
depth. In this regard the question of choosing a suitable type of negative is of 
great importance. Negative film with insignificant contrast values and great 
breadth of scale is the best for transmitting aerial perspectives. 

Light and tone are two inseparably associated means of representation, the 
first being the cause, and the second the effect. The breadth of the tonal scale 
varies in dependence upon whether concentrated or diffused lighting is used, while 
the direction of the light rays governs the variation in distribution of light and shade 
over the surface of the object, and therefore the grouping of the tonal spots. 

The process of constructing light and tonal composition can be shortly 
summarised under three heads. 

i . Exposition of the form of the object. — As the photographic image consists 
of a fixed projection of an object on a plane surface, the illusion of three dimensions 
is achieved by varying the degree of lighting of the surface of the object. Taking 
'a three-dimensional object as a system of reflecting surfaces, by changing the 
intensivity and direction of the lighting we can reveal one or another side of 
the object, intensifying and modifying the tone and the correspondingly distributed 
light and shade. Thus we get the conception of lighting contrast, which in 
photography is practically the same as tonal contrast. Owing to the tonal con- 
trasts the plane surface of the image takes on the quality of relief, which creates 



the illusion of three dimensions. But as light and the tonal relations it sets ip 
are essentially the sole means of transmitting both objects and space, both ;: 
and colour, we can use lighting to express predominantly one or the other 
the above specified ' formal categories \ For instance, we can express the thre 
dimensional volume of objects, which will then have distinct contours, line- 
definition. Or with the same lighting we can treat dimension ' pictorially ', 
which case it will no longer be distinctly plastic, but vague, fluid, and as tnouj. 
veiled in a fine mist. It is essential to give full attention to these two contrapos<. 
treatments of the image : linear-dimensional, and light-plastic, which is pr 
dominantly spatial. In the first treatment space will be perceived as depth, L 
in its volume and linear aspect. In the second treatment space will be perceivt 
as light and air, in other words as an aerial perspective. 

2. Exposition of the texture of the object. — The character of the lighting pla\ 
a decisive part not only in constructing the dimensions of the object and of spa< 
in the photograph, but also in revealing the texture of the material. Here bo\ 
the intensivity of the lighting and its direction are of importance. An unequ; 
rough surface reveals its texture when lit by an intensive, direct light. Polish( 
metal, on the other hand, needs soft, diffused lighting. In accordance with tl 
nature of the material and the task we are set, with the aid of lighting we ra 
either accentuate the texture, sharply revealing it, or we can modify its characte 
Here the action of light is analogous to the action of lenses, and we obtain tl 
effect we need by correspondingly co-ordinating the choice of lens with the di 
tribution of the light. 

3. Fixing the general tone of the image. — A general change in the intensivii 
of the lighting involves a change in the general tone of the image. The tone < 
the image is in direct dependence upon the intensivity of the lighting. If v 
increase its intensivity we shift the tone in the direction of the lighter gradatioi 
of the tonal scale. By differentiating the lighting of the various surfaces of tr. 
object, we obtain a differential distribution of the tonal spots. 1 

The foregoing are the chief features characterising the importance of ligl 
and tonal composition. We must consider certain problems connected with tr 
technique of distributing light and shade and of grouping the tonal areas. 

When a ray of light falls on any object it forms light and shade areas on tr 
surface of that object. If we carefully examine the image we can distinguis 
bright lights, shadows, semi-shadows, and gleams. Deep shadows are also forme 
around the object, and these give us a silhouetted contour of that object, i 
on the side opposite to the source of light the object is bounded by light surface: 
the deep shadows produce reflections formed by the action of reflected ligh 
Thus light, semi-shadow, shadow, gleam and reflection are the main elements in th 
optical representation of the object photographed. 

We shall consider eight methods of lighting which schematically show th, 
distribution of light and shade in dependence upon the number of sources of th 
lighting and the direction of the light rays. 

First method. Back lighting. — The source of light is placed diametrical! 
opposite the camera, and lights up the object from behind. In this case we ge 
the effect of back lighting. Fig. 31 shows the distribution of light and shadoV 

1 The length of exposure of the negative also plays a great part in achieving a give 
tone in the image. By under-exposing we achieve a general reduction in tone and 
compression of the tonal scale. The image darkens and becomes ' contrasty ' in nature 
By over-exposing the general tone is heightened, and the image loses the quality of contrast 




ith such lighting. The linear outline of the object is sharply defined, but the 
ice is represented as a dark tonal plane. This method of lighting is used to 
;veal the contoural outline of the object, silhouetting it. 

Second method. Front lighting. — The light rays are directed from the position 
i which the camera is set up. The face is presented as a clearly lighted plane, 
'he contoural outline is established by a dark tonal line (Fig. 32). 

Third method. Side lighting from the left. — The left side of the face is brightly 
t, in contrast with the dark tonal surface of the right side (Fig. 33). 

Fourth method. Side lighting from the right. — This gives the converse of the 
lird method (Fig. 34). 

Fifth method. Side lighting from both sides. — Both the side surfaces are 
rightly lit. The dark tonal area passes along the line of division of the side 
lrfaces of the face (Fig. 35). 

Sixth method. Top lighting. — This gives deep shadows in the eye-sockets, 
nder the nose, on the neck and part of the chin (Fig. 36). 

Seventh method. Bottom lighting. — This gives the converse effect of the 
xth method (Fig. 37). 

Eighth method. Mixed lighting. — This clearly reveals the facial relief, which 
obtained by equal distribution of the light (Fig. 38). 

The foregoing give only a general idea of the visual effects to be obtained 
y regulating the direction and intensivity of the lighting. 

Having thus become acquainted with the elementary schemes of light and 
lade distribution in one or another direction, we can explain the general method 
: working out the lighting scheme of the shot. 

First stage. — We determine the general tone of the image, achieving this by 
nial saturation of the entire field of vision by diffused lighting from above. 

Second stage. — We pick out the contoural outlines of the objects by setting 
3 back lighting, consisting of concentrated light. 

Third stage. — We work up the relief of the object by mixing sources of light 
om the side, above and below. 

Fourth stage. — We resort to special lighting effects by which the tonal spots, 
flections and gleams are distributed. 

Fifth stage. — We set up front lighting, so softening the general lighting 

When the task calls for it we need exploit only certain forms of lighting, 
;cluding one or another source of light from the lighting scheme. It is impos- 
ble to give fixed formulas for lighting, for the variety of lighting combinations 
nnot be reduced to the narrow limits of a previously stated ' law ' of lighting. 
1 all cases the decisive factor in carrying out a lighting scheme is the camera- 
an's own creative method, or his relation to the director's aims and creative 

The determination of the light and tonal composition is one of the most 
mplicated tasks in the camera-man's art, since light creatively exploited becomes 
powerful means of exerting emotional influence. 

By changing the general tone of the image we can direct the spectator's 
rception to one or another sensation. Intensive lighting, forming brilliant 
nes, and engendering bright, dancing gleams, conduces to an optimistic per- 
ption of the object. A change in the direction of dark tones correspondingly 
t wers the spirit of the spectator's perception. A gleam of light or a clear tonal 
ot concentrates his attention on a definite object, and thus we get the light- 
cent, which plays a significatory function in compositional construction. 



Fig. 3] 

Fig, 32. 

Fig. 33. 

Fig. 34. 

Fig. 31. — First method. Back lighting. The 
source of light is placed diametrically 
opposite the camera, and lights up the 
object from behind. In this case we get 
the effect of back lighting. Fig. 31 shows 
the distribution of light and shadow with 
such lighting. The linear outline of the 
object is sharply defined, but the face is 
represented as a dark tonal plane. This 
method of lighting is used to reveal the 
contoural outline of the object, silhouet- 
ting it. 

Fig. 32. — Second method. Front lighting. 
The light rays are directed from the posi- 
tion in which the camera is set up. The 
face is presented as a clearly lighted 
plane. The contoural outline is estab- 
lished by a dark tonal line. 

Fig. 33. — Third method. Side lighting from 
the left. The left side of the face is 
brightly lit, in contrast with the dark 
tonal surface of the right side. 

Fig. 34. — Fourth method. Side lighting from 
the right. This gives the converse of the 
third method. 

Fig. 35. — Fifth method. Side lighting from 
both sides. Both the side surfaces are 
brightly lit. The dark tonal area passes 
along the line of division of the side 
surfaces of the face. 

Fig. 36. — Sixth method. Top lighting. This 
gives deep shadows in the eye-sockets, 
under the nose, on the neck and part of 
the chin. 

Fig. 37. — Seventh method. Bottom lighting. 
This gives the converse effect of the sixth 

Fig. 38. — Eighth method. Mixed lighting. 
This clearly reveals the facial relief, which 
is obtained by equal distribution of the 


J *$f& 


Fig. 36. 

W* MM 

... <* - - , 
& !r"4xtV" 

Fig. 37. 

Fig. 38. 


Fig. 39 is a photograph in which the perspective construction has been 
chieved by a correlation of tone. From the foreground, built up of black, 
iturated tones, we pass to the middle ground, carried out in grey tone, and then 
) the background, consisting of white tone. This gradual tonal transition creates 
rie illusion of depth. Almost all photographic constructions of aerial perspective 
re based on the principle of successive transition from one shade of tone to 
nother. Here the light filter comes to our aid, for by its use we can change the 
)nal transmission of the film to a greater or less degree. The technical limits 
} the possible changes in tone of the object are determined by the co-ordination 
f the properties of the light filter, gauged in relation to the light transmission 
f the negative, with the contrast values of the negative and the length of exposure. 


The time factor has to be considered in relation to the following aspects of 
tie shooting process. 

First : The general length of time taken to show the given shot or cutting 
nit. There is inviolable dependence between the cutting time and the time the 
pectator takes to apprehend the composition of the given shot. 

Second : The speed at which the dynamic process occurs in the shot. This 
peed can be varied by accelerating or reducing the speed at which the camera 
perates while the shot is taken. There are three factors which affect the relations 
etween the speed of shooting and the effect of the movement on the screen. 

Complete correspondence between the shooting speed and the projection 

Fig. 39. — Perspective construction, 
effected with aid of tone contrast. 



speed gives the closest approximation to a transmission of the true speed I 
movement of the object. 

Acceleration of the shooting speed produces a braking effect during pr 
jection, and this can be carried to the extent of effecting an analytical disintegr 
tion of the actual movement into its various phases. 

Reduction of the shooting speed produces the effect of accelerating tl 
movement on the screen. 

In the first instance the time taken to show the dynamic process on tl 
screen exactly corresponds with the time taken by the actual process during i 

In the second instance the projection time exceeds that taken during tl 1 
shooting of the original dynamic process. 

In the third instance the result is the converse of the second. 

The time factor is of enormous importance as a means of expressive organ 
sation of the shot temporally. 

We can either slow up the movement or can accelerate it to the point of tl 
grotesque, can approximate it to an analytical disintegration into its componei 
phases ; by such means in any case we can control the length of the dynam 
process on the screen one way or another. 

Just as we can isolate details for the spectator's attentive consideration t 
photographing in close-ups, so, in the edited projection of a dynamic process v 
can give a ' close-up ' of an individual phase of a movement by giving it long* 
projection, transforming it into an expressive accent of the editing phrase. Tr 
accentuation of an accelerated or retarded turning movement, the accentuatio' 
of a slow fall, the accentuation of temporally protracting a piece of acting : the* 
are all means of expression which we can apply with other means, already mer 
tioned, to produce a given emotional effect when constructing the image. 

Our motivation for deciding upon one or another method of temporal) 
organising the dynamic process may be found either in the specific qualities ( 
the object photographed (unusually fast or slow actual movement which calls fc 
alteration) or in the purely scenario requirements determining a certain signifies 
tory and emotional effect. 



So far we have been considering the elements of composition analytically, 
stractly reducing them to the statics of single examples. Now we must tackle 
e task of showing the process by which we find and technically interpret the 
mpositional scheme of the shot in practice, by using the example of a 
mplete scenario fragment. For our purpose we can select any subject con- 
-uction in any directorial treatment, since at the moment we are con- 
rned not with the correctness of the director's choice of any particular 
;atment, but with demonstrating the process itself : the successive working out 
the scenario fragment and its reduction to the compositional scheme of each 
parate shot, considered in its editing context. We must strongly emphasise 
at the treatment of a scenario fragment which we outline below is only one of 
e possible ways of achieving the task set. 1 The fragment is to be regarded only 
instructional material, which we use to show the elements of the camera-man's 
rticipation in the creative process of working out a scenario. For this reason 
: can to some extent ignore the question of the correctness of the directorial 
sthod, so simplifying our exposition of the actual process of the work. 

To provide ourselves with a literary scenario we use the following fragment 
>m Pushkin's poem : " The Brazen Horseman ". 

Around the base of the idol 

The unhappy maniac passed, 

And threw his wild and savage glance 

At the features of the lord of half the world. 

His chest contracted. His brow 

To the cold railings he set. 

His eyes were enmisted, 

A fire sped through his heart, 

His blood boiled. Gloomy he stood 

Before the haughty idol, 

And, grating his teeth, clenching his fists, 

As though moved by an evil power, 

" Good, thou worker of miracles ! " 

He whispered, angrily trembling, 

" Enough of thee ! " And suddenly headlong 

He turned to flee. It seemed to him 

That the terrible lord, 

Momently burning with anger, 

Slowly turned his face. . . . 

And through the empty square 

He ran, hearing behind him 

The turbulent roll of thunder : 

1 This treatment (the division into shots-scenes and the draping of the mise en scene) 

5 executed by the author in accordance with the methods taught by S.M. Eisenstein in 

directors' faculty of G.I.K. The compositional schemes and drawings associated with 

were executed after the author's sketches and under his direction by the directors* 

ulty students, Kadochnikov and Velichko.— Ed. 

6 7 


A heavy, ringing gallop 

Over the quivering roadway. 

And, haloed by the pallid moon, 

With one arm stretched on high, 

After him speeds the Brazen Horseman, 

On a ringingly galloping horse. 

And all that night the unhappy maniac, 

No matter where he turned his steps, 

Heard behind him the Brazen Horseman 

With heavy clatter galloping. 

Our first task is to elucidate the conception, the theme of the scenai 
fragment we have selected. 

The theme of the poem " The Brazen Horseman " can be defined as esse 
tially one of individual revolt, which in its isolated attempt to rise against t 
autocracy is foredoomed to failure. The figure of Peter the Great, the " idol 
a brazen horse ", stylistically treated in a pose of classic immobility, is reveal! 
as a symbol of the " State power " of the period of Nicholas the First, 1 whii 
ruthlessly smashed any attempt on the part of personality and individuality > 
oppose the ' legalised order ' of the feudal-police monarchy. 

In our attempts to reach a clear understanding of one of the two opposijj 
forces of the poem — the ' idol ', — we shall find a poem by Adam Mitskievitc, 
" The Road to Russia ", of great interest for its characterisation of Peter the Gre;, 

In this poem Mitskievitch speaks of Peter's passion for conquest, of t; 
" Brazen, knout-autocratic Tsar," whose " horse reared refractorily, seeking t; 
frontiers of distant lands ". Mitskievitch provides us with a very clear pictorl 
comparison which is of great help in elucidating the principle on which we shoul 
base our representational treatment of the " idol on a brazen horse ". 

The tsar shook loose the reins, the horse flew off, 

Champing at the bit. . . . 

Now it fell. . . . 

But still the cliff was inviolable. 

And the Brazen Horseman, furious and scowling, 

Still set his horse jumping at random. 

Thus, by winter cold imprisoned. 

The cataract hangs over the abyss. 1 

But in these dead expanses 

Only the Western wind breathes, 

The sun of freedom shines on all, 

And the cataract of tyranny crashes down. 3 

Thus the essentially dynamic figure of the " Brazen Horseman " is presentd 
in monumental immobility, in static violence, like a " cataract hanging over 1 
abyss ". The monument of Peter is an embodiment of the ruthless, oppressi : 
tyranny of feudalism, which has already completed its historical task, and nc 
acts only as a stagnant and frozen force. 

The individual force opposing him, the representative of a new, though sti 
indeterminate element, is the maniac Eugene. His picture is unfolded in til: 
dynamics of his behaviour, on which all the development of the subject is con- 

1 The period both of Pushkin and his character Eugene. — N. 

2 Here and in the following quotations the italics are the present author's. — N. 

3 A. Mitskievitch, " The Road to Russia ", Monument of Peter the Great. — N. 



From the ironic " Good, thou worker of miracles ! " Eugene rises to the direct 
hreat " Enough of thee ! " And this threat, shattering against the dead statics 
f the monument, returns like a boomerang to strike Eugene himself, evoking 
he hallucination that he is pursued, and so driving him insane. 

Thus, the theme itself necessitates different treatment for the two pro- 
agonists. The monument of Peter, and in particular the statue itself, in con- 
unction with the Empire details of the surroundings, postulates monumentally 
tatic treatment. The image of Eugene, as the chief actor, is treated in unbroken 
lynamic form, with a dynamic line continually intensifying from the moment of 
he threat to the final destruction of the maniac pursued by the ' Brazen Horse- 
nan '. The narrative line of this scenario fragment develops through the clash 
md conflict of these two tendencies : static and dynamic. 

We turn to a detailed consideration of the actors and the scene of the action, 
ind to the elucidation of a number of representational indications provided by 
he text of the poem itself. 

Eugene's character. — In Pushkin we find the following clues to an under- 
tanding of Eugene : 

But my poor, poor Eugene. . . . 
Alas ! His disordered mind 
Against those terrible shocks 
Could not withstand. 

And, farther on : 

He soon to the world 
Grew alien. All the day 

Fig. 40. — Illustration by A. Benois to " The Brazen Horseman 



Fig. 41. — Illustration by A. Benois to "The Brazen Horseman". 

He wandered on foot, 

And slept on the quay. , 

He lived 
On food passed through windows. 
His dilapidated clothing 
Tore and rotted on him. 

From these passages we can make the following obvious deductions. Eugen 
is in a state of temporary aberration. He is inclined towards unstable activity 
he reacts neurasthenically to every outward provocation. He is pursued by th< 
memory of his past experience. Pushkin describes his appearance in the following 
words : 

And so his unhappy years 
He dragged away, nor beast nor man, 
Nor this nor that, nor inhabitant of the 
World, nor dead spectre. . . . 

He is dressed in torn, rotting clothing (" His dilapidated clothing tore and 
rotted on him "). He wears dirty worn-out bast shoes (" all day he wanderec 
on foot "). His face is pale and haggard (" slept on the quay," " lived on food 
passed through windows "). He is wearing a shabby cap (" He removed his 
shabby cap," we read elsewhere in the poem). These are all the clues the poerc 
gives us concerning Eugene's dress and appearance. 

The scene of action : 

Eugene arrives at the Senate Square in Petersburg. 



He found himself beneath the columns 
Of a large house. Beside the steps, 
With one paw raised as though alive, 
Stood guardian lions, 
And opposite, towering in the darkness, 
Above a rock railed all around, 
An idol with extended arm 
Was riding a brazen horse. 

These lines give us some description of the scene of the action. The spot 
vhence Eugene turns his steps towards the monument is the edifice of the Senate, 
he main steps with columns and guardian lions. 

Farther on Pushkin mentions the time of the year and conditions in which 
he action occurs. 

The days of summer 

Were declining into autumn. There breathed 

A rainy wind. 

... It was dark ; 

The rain sprinkled drops, the wind howled drearily. 

So Eugene arrived at the square on a dark autumn night. A wind was 
blowing, a fine rain was falling. The cobbled roadway and the iron railings around 
he monument must have been wet. 

Eugene shuddered. His thoughts 
Strangely clarified within him. He recognised 
The place where the flood had rolled, 
Where the rapacious waves had danced, 
Angrily tossing around him. 

Fig. 42. — Illustration by A. Benois to " The Brazen Horseman 

7 1 


Fig. 43. — Illustration by A. Benois to " The Brazen Horseman ". 

There had recently been a flood in the Senate Square. We may justifiab 
assume that the road would be torn up in places by the action of the waves. Ar 
the lower part of the railings might be heaped with sand. These details a 
also essential to the further development. 

Finally, Pushkin gives us some highly important clues to the lighting of tl 
square. He says : 

And opposite, towering in the darkness, 
Above a rock railed all around, 
An idol with extended arm 
Was riding a brazen horse. 

He goes on to say that the brazen horseman is ' terrible in the surroundir; 
mist '. But at the end of the fragment come the lines : 

And, haloed by the pallid moon, 
With one arm stretched on high, 
After him speeds the Brazen Horseman, 
On a ringingly galloping horse. 

From the foregoing we may assume that at the beginning of the action, whe 
Eugene first appears, the moon is hidden by clouds, and the figures on the squar 
emerge as silhouetted outlines. Then the moon emerges from the clouds and th 
lighting changes. We may even assume that the moon is hidden behind cloud 
several times during the action, and that, driven by the wind, the clouds racl 
swiftly across it. This feature is a highly important factor in the constructioi 
of the later shots, and we must emphasise it. 



Now we will briefly expound the narrative scheme of the scenario fragment. 

One dark autumn night Eugene finds himself in the Senate Square. He 
^cognises the scene of the recent flood, and, in the grip of memories of the event, 
e turns his steps towards the monument of Peter the First. To Eugene Peter 
i the personification of the ' evil element ' oppressing the burdened and enslaved 
ountry. In an outburst of hatred he challenges the monument. His sick 
nagination suffers an hallucination. He imagines that the ' Brazen Horseman ' 
omes down from its pedestal and pursues him. He flees. Pushkin gives the 
lenouement as an unbroken pursuit of Eugene by the ' Brazen Horseman '. He 
is overtaken ; in other words, he is vanquished by the invincible might of 
lussian absolutism. The ' Brazen Horseman ' triumphs. Eugene goes mad, 
nd perishes. 

Such is the narrative scheme of the fragment. We must now decide what 
re to be the bases of the directorial treatment of the subject, for we cannot 
chieve any representational treatment of the film without a previous, definite 
lirectorial treatment. 

If we were to lay out the subject content in approximate representational 
orm we could confine ourselves to six episodes which keep the spectator informed 
>f the action. 

First : Eugene stands at the steps of the Senate. 

Second : He walks to the monument. 

Third : He challenges Peter. 

Fourth : Peter turns in his direction, and he turns to flee. 

Fifth : He runs across the square, the ' Brazen Horseman ' behind him. 

Sixth : The ' Brazen Horseman ' overtakes him. 

These six episodes in representational exposition can be depicted in the 
orm provided by A. Benois in his sketches illustrating the text of " The Brazen 
Norseman ". Figs. 40-45 give, in their order, the six sketches which have direct 
eference to our fragment. 

But a representational scheme which is completely adequate and highly 
irtistic in pictorial illustration is poor and inexpressive for the cinema. If we 

Fig. 44. — Illustration by A. Benois to " The Brazen Horseman ". 



were to screen six shots with such a simplified scheme we should have a primitr 
informational exposition of very little emotional effect, and by no means revealii 
all the true expressiveness of the subject. Obviously we should have a mechani 
ally illustrative, simple staging of the subject, which would not capture all tl 
pictorial wealth of Pushkin's poem. 

With the aid of the specific resources of cinematic expression we shall try 
find a compositional unity which will give us at least a distant approximation 
the content and the stylistic construction of our literary fragment. 

The directorial treatment must note the following narrative episodes callir; 
for expression. 

i. Eugene finds himself on the Senate Square. Here we must give, fir 
a representational idea of the scene of the action, and the specific details of tl 
square, and then an idea of Eugene as the chief actor. 

2. Eugene makes his way to the monument. When a little way off he rais< 
his eyes to it, and, suddenly caught by a fixed idea, he seeks a meeting ' face t 
face ' with Peter. 

3. In a feverish agitation, shudderingly he raises his eyes to Peter. 

4. The meeting ' face to face \ Peter's eyes — Eugene's eyes. 

5. Eugene utters his challenge to Peter. 

6. The ' Brazen Horseman ' reacts to the challenge. Peter's eyes light u 
with sullen fire. The horse rears on its hind-legs. 

7. Eugene turns to flee. The rider on the granite rock turns after him 

8. The narrative denouement. Peter pursues and overtakes Eugene. 
The directorial treatment can handle the first three episodes in annunciati\ 

form. This includes all the shots dealing with Eugene's arrival at the squai 
and walk towards the monument. The fourth and fifth episodes deal with th | 
scene of the clash between Eugene and Peter. Eugene challenges Peter, and th 
challenge recoils on Eugene himself. The sixth episode is the most complex t 
treat in our cinematographic medium. The rearing of the ' Brazen Horseman 
and his turn after Eugene is the culminating point of the entire construction. Th 
seventh and eighth episodes give the narrative denouement, leading up to Eugen 
being pursued and overtaken by the ' Brazen Horseman '. 

Now we are confronted with a decidedly difficult task. The literary fragmer 
we have chosen is an exposition both of real details, and also and especially c 
the hallucination which Eugene suffers because of his sick imagination. Thu 
we have to utilise the cinema's representational resources to disclose Eugene' 
subjective experiences, and at the same time, in the denouement, we have to sho^ 
the unreality of the final incident. If we were completely to ignore the logics 
motivation in the development of the narrative we would treat it mystically, an- 
that would be ideologically incorrect treatment of the fragment. Meantime, th 
text of the poem itself supplies several hints which enable us logically to elucidat 
the conditions in which Eugene's hallucination arose. We recall these hints i: 
their definite connection with our task. 

Eugene walks into the square at night. The moon is hidden behind clouds 
An autumn wind is blowing, and a drizzling rain is falling. Eugene utters hi 
challenge. The moon emerges from behind a cloud and lights up Peter's face 
In Eugene's imagination the suddenly illumined features ' momently burn witl 
anger '. This serves as the impulse to the development of the hallucination 
Eugene is afraid of Peter's vengeance : he awaits an answering blow. He onh 
imagines that the monument turns round. He has the impression that the horse 
man is turning to follow him. 




Fig. 45. — Illustration by A. Benois to " The Brazen Horseman 

He runs to the spot where he had halted first, whence he gets a frontal view 
: the monument. The moon completely emerges from cloud. The shadow 
: the ' Brazen Horseman ' falls across him, and this acts as a further impulse to 
Le development of the hallucination. He is pursued not by the ' Brazen Horse- 
tan ' itself, but by its shadow. He runs across the square, and falls. The moon 
isses behind clouds, and a dense shadow covers the prostrate Eugene. The 
lal shot shows the monument standing immovably on its granite rock. And 
lus we provide a complete explanation of the unreality of the incidents we have 
ien filming. 

Thus we arrive at one of the possible forms of directorial treatment. Once 



more we emphasise that it is only one of various ways of solving our task. W 
make no claim to reproduce exactly the narrative scheme of the chosen fragmen 
since our purpose is first and foremost to demonstrate the process of working 01; 
the directorial and camera-man's treatment of the task, and not the construction 
of a scenario ideologically and formally of equal value to the poem. 

Now we come to the construction of the raise ea scene of the action. 

In order to simplify the exposition of the following material we can ignor 
certain features in the actual layout of the monument on the Senate Square, an< 
in particular its situation in relation to the Senate building. We will assume tha 
the ' Brazen Horseman ' faces the Senate steps, and not the river Neva, as 1 I 
really the case. 

Fig. 46 gives the raise ea sceae of Eugene's wanderings over the Senate Squar 
in sketch form. Fig. 47 gives the same raise ea sceae in plan form. 

Eugene arrives in the square by the section of the raise ea sceae running fron 
point A to point B. At point B he changes his direction,' and walks right aroum 
the monument along the first spiral. Then we have a brief transition to point E 
He steps back a few paces and utters the first part of his challenge : the worci 
" Good ! " After this first cue he runs back, and finishes the phrase with th< 
ironic : " thou worker of miracles ! " Then he runs forward and throws out th» 
challenge : " Enough of thee ! " Here we have a brief pause. Peter's hors< 
rears on to its hind-legs. The ' Brazen Horseman ' answers with his blow. Ii 
a panic Eugene flees, and is crushed and destroyed by Peter's angry gesture. Th< 
flight begins from point F, and is accomplished along the second spiral of th< 
raise en sceae through point G. At this spot Eugene falls on one knee. At th< 
same moment the monument completes its turn through the whole 360 of I 
circle, and returns to its starting-point. The moon emerges, a shadow falls across, 
Eugene. He turns to run, and the shadow follows him along the dotted line 
parallel to the line of Eugene's flight. At point H Eugene falls again, ther 
changes the direction of his flight. At point I the shadow overtakes and coven 

Such is the kinetic scheme of development of the subject. On the basis ol 
these actions as determined by the mise ea sceae, we can now proceed to the scenario 
distribution into shots. 


/. Eugeae arrives at the square, aad passes arouad the moaumeat aloag the 

first spiral 
Script shots : 

1. Detail of the Senate (armorial bearings). 

2. The Senate steps. Eugene comes on. 

3. Long-shot of the Senate entrance. 

4. Mid-shot of Eugene coming on (face to the camera). 

5. Close-up of Eugene. 

6. Close-up of Eugene (from behind). 

7. Mid-shot of Eugene in front of the Senate entrance (from behind). 
ya. The camera (viewpoint) is lowered and the monument is seen in the 

yb. Eugene's advance in the same set-up. 
yc. Mid-shot of Eugene's advance. 



Fig. 46. — Mise en scene of Eugene's course around the monument. 

These shots cover that part of the mise en scene dealing with Eugene's arrival 
n the square. Noting down the camera points corresponding to this distribution 
)f shots, we get the scheme shown in Fig. 48. The line of movement covered 
)y the above-specified shots is marked with a thick line. All the rest of the 
nise en scene is shown by a dotted line. 

The distribution of the shooting points is shown by straight line segments, 
iach marked with the appropriate number of the scenario shot. The length of 
jach segment determines the breadth of the field of vision in the given shot (long- 
ihot, mid-shot or close-up). The direction of the viewpoint is indicated by an 

To continue the distribution of shots : 

Script shots 




Eugene passes around the monument. 

He emerges from behind the monument. 

With face to the camera, close to the railings, he passes to the left. 

From behind, in a mid-shot he passes to the middle of the railings. 

Close-up of Eugene at the railings (from behind). 

His face taken through the railings. 

His face seen through the railings, very large scale. 

A flowing pan-shot upward over the monument. 



Fig. 47. — Mise en scene of Eugene's course around the monument (in top plan). 

Fig. 49 gives the shooting points covered by the above shots. These fifteen 
shots embrace all the mise en scene from Eugene's arrival in the square to his 
first circling of the monument. 

//. Eugene's movements at the monument 

Script shots : 

16. Eugene's face, staring at the monument. 

17. Peter's monumental, brazen face. 

18. Peter's motionless eyes (in very large size). 

19. The moon, the dark sky, and a motionless small cloud. 

20. Eugene's shifting eyes (large size). 

21. The moon, dark sky, and very slowly moving small cloud. 
Peter's eyes, with the shadow of the cloud moving very slowly over the 

A detail of the monument : the outstretched arm. 
Detail of the monument : snake under the horse's hoofs. 
Detail of monument : Peter's head and shoulders. 

26. Close-up of Eugene facing the camera. Eugene says : " Good ! " 
26a. The same set-up. Eugene steps backward, then runs back. 

27. Peter in the foreground. In the top left corner of the shot, in the back- 
ground from above, the tiny figure of Eugene is visible. 

28. The same viewpoint, on somewhat larger scale. 

29. Eugene in the foreground. In the right top corner of the shot the 






monument is visible in the background. Eugene completes his phrase 
with the words : " thou worker of miracles ! " 

30. The railings in the foreground. In the depth of the shot Eugene's legs 
are visible. 

300. In the same set-up Eugene runs to the railings and clutches them. 

31. Pan of the monument in a single shot. 

32. Eugene runs into close-up (out of focus) at the railings, his face towards 
the camera. When his face completely fills the screen he shouts : 
" Enough of thee ! " 

33. Eugene's hand raised, with fist clenched. 

34. The dark sky ; clouds draw swiftly across the moon. 

35. Close-up of Peter. A shadow from the cloud falls across his face. His 
eyes light up. 

36. Peter's head and shoulders. 

37. Peter's face, his eyes burning darkly. 

38. The railings right across the frame. Eugene's figure, running, seen 

beyond them. 

39. Three shots (a> b, c) cutting pieces of the running Eugene, his leg, arm 

and face blurred in movement. 

40. The horse rearing on its hind-legs, in three static shots. Progressive 

lowering of the viewpoint and change of the foreshortening. 

41. Peter's head, in large size. 

42. Long-shot, with tiny fleeing figure of Eugene in the depths of the shot 

below the railings. 

III. Eugene's flight around the monument along the second spiral 
Script shots : 

43. Eugene runs across the frame from right to left and passes out of the shot. 

44. The monument makes a slow turn of 75 °. 



OR oaf* 

Fig. 48. — 1 st section of mise en scene with distribution of set-ups. 



Fig. 49. — 2nd section of mise en scene with distribution of set-ups. 

45. Eugene runs around the monument. 

46. The monument accomplishes a further turn of 75 . 

47. Eugene runs across the frame in the same direction. Mid-shot of hi! 


48. Third turn of the monument by 75 . 

49. From outside the frame Eugene runs in towards the camera. 

50. In three successive cutting pieces the monument makes a swift tun 

(by 45° m eacn turn. Thus, together with the preceding turns, : 
has now accomplished a complete circle of 360 .) 

51. Eugene runs into the frame from the left, and falls on one knee. 

52. Mid-shot of Eugene, fallen on his knee. 

Fig. 51 shows the section of the mise en scene to which the foregoing shot 

At this stage of our analysis we are not dealing with the technique of carrying 
out the tasks we have set ourselves. But, in elucidation of the scheme giver 
above, we think it advisible to make certain explanations of a technical nature. 

The turn of the monument on its axis can be achieved by either of two 
methods. Either we make a papier mache model of the monument and turn it 
round in the course of shooting, or we carry the shooting point around the monu- 
ment. In the first case the shooting process presents no special difficulties, but, 
on the other hand, if we use this method we are unable to show the monument 
as it turns in its immediate, realistic surroundings. In the second course we' 
have to resort to special technical accessories 1 for carrying the camera around 
the monument, but we are saved the necessity of making a model, which by no 
means always conveys a perfect illusion of the actual object we wish to incorporate 
in the film. 

We choose the method of carrying the camera around the monument. For 

1 With rails— a track shot. Without rails— a truck shot.— Ed. 



lis purpose, the scheme of our mise en scene (fourth plan, Fig. 51) must also 
how the course of the camera around the monument. The direction of its 
ourse is shown on the scheme by a line of short dashes. The first section of 
le course gives us shot 44. In this shot we have a turn of 75 °. The second 
ection gives us shot 46, with a turn of 75 . The third gives shot 48, with a further 
am of 75 . Shots 50, a, b and c give the completion of the turn in three cutting 
ieces, with a turn of 45 ° in each case. 

The course of the camera around the monument is shown by a circle marked 
1 short dashes. The circle in longer dashes gives Eugene's course. This latter 
i shot from fixed points. Shots 43, 45, 47, 49, and 51 show Eugene's course, 
dl the shooting points for these, together with the direction in which they are 
hot, are also indicated in Fig. 51. 

IV. The final section of the mise en scene 

Script shots : 

53. Close-up of Eugene. 

54. Three short cutting sections. A hoof of the rearing horse, the horse's 

muzzle, Peter's distorted face. 

55. Eugene's eyes, looking askance. 

56. Three short cutting sections. Peter's face, the horse's muzzle, the 

raised hoof. (Repetitive editing formula for ' crushing underfoot.') 

57. Eugene covers his face with his fore-arm, as though expecting a blow. 

58. Eugene in long-shot runs out of the frame. Behind him the shadow of 

the horseman rushes into the frame. 

59. The shadow of the monument slowly extends across the roadway. 

60. The pedestal without the statue. 

61. The full moon emerges from a cloud. 



Fig. 50. — 3rd section of mise en scene with distribution of set-ups. 



Fig. 51. — 4th section of mise en scene with distribution of set-ups. 


62. The shadow of the horseman extends across the roadway. 

63. Eugene in long-shot runs across the frame. In the middle of the frame 

he momentarily falls. He runs out of the frame, and after him the 
shadow of the statue passes across the frame. 
The pedestal without the statue. 

65. A cloud passes across the moon. 

66. The shadow of the statue passes across the roadway. 

67. Three short cutting pieces : the raised hoof, the horse's muzzle, 

Peter with outstretched arm (editing formula for * crushing under- 
foot '). 

68. The corner of a house. Eugene runs into the frame and disappears 

round the corner. 

69. Three very short cutting pieces, as 67. 

70. The shadow passes across the roadway. 

71. Eugene runs in facing the camera. 

72. Three cutting pieces of formula ' crushing underfoot ', as 69 and 67. 

73. The shadow passes across the frame. 

74. Long-shot of Eugene's flight. 

75. The shadow passes in the same set-up. 

76. Eugene runs into the frame and falls. He is covered by the shadow of 

the ' Brazen Horseman \ 
Three cutting pieces : raised hoof, horse's muzzle, Peter's face. 
Close-up. Peter's head moves towards the camera and fills the 

A dark cloud covers the moon. 





80. A silhouette of the ' Brazen Horseman ' standing motionless on the 
granite rock slowly fades out. 

The End 

The conclusion of the mise en scene with the distribution of shooting points 
iccording to the various shots is shown in Fig. 52. 

This completes our scheme of distribution into shots, and we turn to the 
lext step : the construction of a compositional scheme for each shot to be taken. 

In its simplest form the compositional scheme should fix two main features : 

1. The scheme of linear composition, in other words, the compositional 
listribution of the objects in the shot. 

2. The direction of the objects' movements in the shot. 

So far as we are able to do so with the aid of a simple sketch, the representation 
>f the image, the foreshortening of the object, and the object's movement should 
indoubtedly be shown in the compositional scheme. For the tonal treatment 
)f the shot and the lighting motivation a separate sketch showing the treatment 
>f this is required, and this can only deal with those main shots in each editing 
jroup which determine the tone and lighting treatment of the entire episode or 

The compositional schemes given below for the shot distribution of the 
Brazen Horseman ' naturally only give an approximate idea of the actual com- 


13 th ED/TING 

14-th EDITING 

Fig. 52. — Last section of mise en scene with distribution of set-ups. 



positional construction of each shot. As we are compelled to restrict ourselv 
only to a scheme of linear composition, a number of important details will escaj 
the reader's notice. So we shall attempt to summarise the tonal and lightir 
treatment of the given scenario at the end. We shall also separately consider tl 
technical methods of obtaining certain shots. 

In each of the pages that follow we give six compositional schemes for sho 
in their editing sequence. Each scheme is provided with a commentary and tl 
motivation for the principle of compositional construction employed. 

8 4 


i. The Senate armorial bearings (detail). A gradual 

terialization of the object out of obscurity. As the 

1 ginning of the scenario fragment is expounded in nar- 

itive form, throughout the first twelve shots we retain 

] lanced frontal composition. The shots are mainly 

-itic ; symmetry is the keynote of their construction. 

'he armorial bearings are taken frontally, symmetrically, 

thout foreshortening. In the opening shots the tone 

sharply lowered. The objects emerge as soft, fluid, 

houetted outlines. The armorial bearings are lighted 

ith side-glancing light. 

2. The entrance to the Senate. Long-shot. Also 
ontal, symmetrical construction. The viewpoint raised 
imewhat. Side lighting, with deep distribution of 
ladow. The armorial bearings are picked out with more 
tensive lighting, as they serve as a connecting, transi- 
onal detail. 

3. Eugene arrives. Viewpoint lowered. In the 
>reground symmetrically distributed lions. The figures 
r the lions are optically distorted by the use of a short- 
>cus lens (focal length 28 mm.). By comparison with 
lem Eugene's figure is lost in the depth of the shot, 
ugene is lit mainly by back lighting, almost as a silhou- 
:te. The texture of the stone lions is emphasised by 
de lighting. 

4. Mid-shot of Eugene (continuation of his ad- 
ance). The compositional construction remains sym- 
letrical. The depth of the frame is optically softened, 
/ugene is now lit more intensively. We can clearly 
istinguish his features and the details of his dress. 

5. Close-up of Eugene (completion of his approach 
o the camera). The close-up is taken frontally. The 
iepth of the frame is out of focus. In this shot we 
>repare to transfer the camera viewpoint to the opposite 
ide. The face is lit by mixed lighting revealing the 
haracteristic peculiarities of the actor's facial expression 
nd action. His entire course right up to this close-up 
s given in unbroken movement. This piece is devoted 
>rimarily to exposition of the actor. 

6. Close-up of Eugene (from behind). He moves 
tway from the camera. In the depth of the frame are 
luid outlines of dark clouds. Strong back lighting, pick- 
ng out the contour of the head. As in the preceding 
;hot, this close-up is taken with a long-focus lens. The 
object's advance and retreat along the optical axis of the 
ens are made at a slow pace. 

;!K!;: , vi:M!j^^l|': ll, ! , ll!!i) 


In, "jMjk ~*A 





W J), 


7. Mid-shot of Eugene's advance (from behin< 
The flight of steps is shot symmetrically. The dep 
of the frame is out of focus. The arches emerge as 
dark silhouette against a grey background. The came 
follows Eugene. 

ya. Continuation of the camera's movement. Tl 
camera viewpoint lowers by successive stages and tl 
silhouette of the ' Brazen Horseman ' is outlined in tl 
shot perspective. 

yb. Continuation of the camera's movement. Th 
camera passes through the arch on to the porcl 
Eugene in long-shot makes his way towards the mom 
ment. The monument is composed in the centre of th 
shot. In the compositional scheme the dotted line show; 
the direction of his approach to the monument. Shot 71 
is cut off at the moment of his coming to a halt. 

yc. Eugene continues his advance to mid-shot 
This shot is cut into the middle of shot yb, and is takei 
from the same point, but with a long-focus lens (onl; 
the degree of nearness of the object shot is changed). 

yd. Completion of Eugene's advance in long-shot 
Here we cut in the completing section of shot yb. 

8. The curve of Eugene's course round the monu- 
ment. The viewpoint is raised. Peter's figure is partly 
cut off by the frame limit. The main attention is con- 
centrated on Eugene's course. Peter as a new personage 
in the action is introduced into the field of vision only 
in the subsequent shots. 



9. Eugene appears from behind the left side of the 
onument. A side viewpoint is chosen in relation to 
le monument. The horse and rider are cut off by the 
ame limit. The viewpoint is raised sufficiently to 
veal the line of the railings. 

10. The viewpoint is transferred to the monument, 
ugene is shot facing the camera through the railings, 
[ere he takes the same course as in shot 9. The back- 
round is out of focus. 

11. Mid-shot of Eugene's advance to the railings, 
le is shot from behind. The movement is in the con- 
'rary direction to that of shot 10 and in the same direc- 
ion as that of shot 9. The background is out of focus. 

12. Close-up of his advance to the railings (with 
Yack to the camera). He enters the frame from the 
eft. This shot completes the movement carried on 
hrough shots 9, 10 and 11. The inclination of Eugene's 
igure is the same as that of shot 11. 

13. The same close-up, but facing the camera. He 
enters the frame from the right. The inclination of the 
igure is in the opposite direction to that of 11 and 12. 
rle seizes the railings. 



14. His face through the railings. The close-up 
s composed diagonally. The railings are taken very 
sharply and lit with harsh back lighting. All the depth is 
completely out of focus. 





15, 15a, b and c. These four shots cover the maiv 
phases of a single pan, moving upward over the monu 
ment. The motivation for the pan is revealed in the sub 
sequent shot. (Eugene raises his eyes to Peter.) Th 
pan begins from a lower viewpoint, corresponding witl 
Eugene's glance. The camera is set up inside the rail 
ings, so that these do not come within the field of vision 
The pan ends before it reaches Peter's face. The fore 
shortening of the monument is increased as the pan i: 
raised. The tempo should be fast. 

16. Large-scale close-up of the upper part of 
Eugene's face. He raises his eyes to Peter. The camera 
viewpoint is from slightly above. Eugene's face is 
taken in strong foreshortening. All the depth of the 
shot is in focus. The damp, cobble-stoned roadway, lit 
with contrasted lighting, forms the background. The 
composition of the close-up is diagonal. The figure is 
sharply inclined forward, and the face is tilted upward. 
The scheme shows how the face is cut off by the frame 

17. Peter's monumental face. The eyes are cut off 
by the frame limit. This shot does not yet show the 
meeting ' face to face '. Peter's face is taken frontally. 
The camera viewpoint is fixed along a line perpendicular 
to the plane of the object. The lighting is mainly from 
the back. Peter's face is in shadow and sharp outline. 
Only the characteristic form of the face is emphasised 
by side lighting. 



1 8. Peter's motionless eyes. The close-up is lit by 
•ncentrated lighting from one source below. Deep 
ladows in the eye sockets. Frontal construction. 

19. Editing cut-in. A cloud slowly passes from the 
sc of the moon. Diagonal composition. The shot is 
ken on a sunny day with panchromatic negative and a 
rong red light-filter. The spaces of blue sky should 
>me out quite black in the shot. 

20. Eugene's eyes, large-scale. Fixed gaze. Frontal 
imposition with a slight tendency to turn to one side. 

21. Editing cut-in. The cloud reveals the face of 
le moon. Conditions of photographing as in shot 19. 

22. Peter's eyes, large-scale. A shadow slowly 
rosses his face. The main lighting is from below, 
ide lighting is gradually introduced. 

23. Peter with outstretched hand. Harsh lighting 
rom the left side. The composition of the outstretched 
and follows a diagonal contrary to the movement of 
lie clouds in the preceding shots (19, 21). 





24. Detail of the monument. A snake under t; 
horse's hoofs. The composition is along the sale 
diagonal as that of Peter's outstretched hand in tsi 
preceding shot. Harsh back lighting. The depth : 
the shot is out of focus. 

25. Detail of the monument. The horse's muzj 
and part of Peter's figure in dynamic foreshortenir 
Composition along the same diagonal. 

26. Close-up of Eugene. In this shot he utters tl 
word : " Good ! " The close-up is taken frontall 
somewhat from above, with the figure leaning slight 
forward. The left side is lit more strongly than tl 

26a. This shot is a continuation of shot 26 (a sing] 
cutting piece). Eugene utters the first part of h 
challenge : " Good ! " and runs back. The camera par 
upward and he appears in the frame in full length. Th 
shot is taken with a short-focus lens possessing adequat 
depth of definition. The damp, cobbled roadway is L 
with oblique (glancing) side rays of directed light. 

27. In the foreground is the figure of Peter wit 
outstretched hand, his back to the camera. In th 
perspective Eugene's figure is visible from above, runnin 
back. (Logical continuation of Eugene's run, taken i 
long-shot.) The shot is taken with a short-focus lens. 



28. In the foreground, Peter's head taken from 
lind. In the background is a mid-shot view of Eugene. 
lis shot is in essence an enlargement of the previous 
:)t, and preserves the same principle of composition. 
ter's head is taken in silhouette ; Eugene's figure is 
evenly. The attention is concentrated on Eugene's 

29. In the foreground, Eugene with back to the 
,nera. In the background is the monument, which is 
with back lighting and emerges as a dark silhouette 
jiinst the grey sky. Eugene is lit evenly, with clear 
finition of the profile, obtained by semi-back lighting, 
gene's head turns to the camera, and we see him in 
Dnle. In this shot he completes the phrase : " thou 
>rker of miracles ! " 

30. In the foreground is the upper part of the rail- 
's. The camera viewpoint is raised. In the back- 
Dund Eugene's legs are visible, running towards the 
nera. In the scheme the direction of the movement 
shown by an arrow. 


- r 

30a. Continuation of the same cutting piece, 
igene runs up to the railings and seizes them. 

31. First phase of the pan upward over the monu- 
nt. The monument is shot somewhat from one 
le. The direction of the pan is shown by an arrow. 



T » 1> T 


31a. Continuation of the same cutting piece. Secor 
phase of the pan upward over the monument. As t\ 
process continues the foreshortening of the object 

2 ib. Continuation of the same cutting piece, 
phase of the pan upward over the monument. 


32. In the foreground is part of the railings, wit 
Eugene taken through them. Frontal construction. Th 
shot is taken with a short-focus lens focussed exactly c 
Eugene's original position. In the course of the shot h 
moves towards the camera, and his face fills the entii 
frame. Thus we reach a close-up, the composition ( 
which is shown on the scheme by a dotted line. As th 
focus has been fixed on Eugene's original position, th 
close-up is taken partly out of focus. Moving swift] 
towards the camera, Eugene utters the threat : " Enoug 
of thee ! " At the moment of the shout the face lost 
almost all definition (to correspond with the hysteria ( 
the shout). 

33. Mid-shot of Eugene. With his back to th 
camera, he raises his clenched fist. All the depth c 
the shot is out of focus. (The shot is taken with 
long-focus lens with insignificant depth of definition.) 

34. A cloud passes over the moon. The shot i 
taken in the same technical conditions as those of th 
previous editing cut-ins, with the one difference that i 
this shot we reduce the speed of photographing, whic 
on the screen results in a swifter movement of the clouc 



35. Close-up of Peter. Frontal construction. The 
ect is harshly lit by back and two-sided lighting. A 
idow runs across the face. 

36. Peter's figure. His head is cut off by the 
me limit. The same conditions of lighting. A 
idow passes swiftly over the figure. 

37. Close-up 01 Peter. The lighting is the same 
in shot 35. A heavy shadow falls across the face 
3 eter scowls '). 

38. Through the railings Eugene's running figure is 
;n in long-shot. Shadows run across the roadway, 
le shot is taken slowly, so that on the screen Eugene's 
)vements are accelerated. 

39. Three short cutting pieces. Fragments of the 
iing Eugene. In this shot his arm is blurred in 
•vement. The shot is taken with a long-focus lens, 
i the speed is reduced. The aperture is fully open, 
yen these technical conditions, we get the effect of 
ivily blurred movement. 

39a. Eugene's leg blurred in movement, taken as he 
is. The same conditions of photographing. 




396. Eugene's distorted face, blurred in moveme 
The same conditions of photographing. 

40, 40a and 40b. Three short cutting pieces j 
Peter's horse 'rearing'. In each successive shot t 
camera viewpoint is lowered and shifted somewhat 
the left. When cut in short sections these three piec 
give the effect of rearing up a steep spiral. As t 
camera viewpoint is lowered the foreshortening is i 

40a. Second phase of the ' rearing '. The viewpoi 
is lowered more, and shifted somewhat to the left. 

406. Third phase. The camera viewpoint is sti 
lower, and even more to the left. The foreshortening 1 

41. Peter's head, very large scale. All the depth 
the shot is in focus. The background consists of swiftl; 
moving, dark clouds. Peter's eyes light up. This i 
achieved by the following technical method. The sho 
is taken in the usual way, but the negative is lef 
undeveloped, except for the first two or three frames 
which are then set in the gate of the camera. Then, ii; 
the studio, two shining points are set against a blacl 
velvet background, and are adjusted to the position of th< 
developed frames so that they correspond with Peter'; 
eyes in those frames. After the camera has been set uf 
accordingly, the exposed but undeveloped section o' 
negative is placed in position, and a second exposure 
produces the shining points in Peter's eyes. 

42. A long-shot, taken from a viewpoint above, of 
Eugene's tiny figure running in zigzags. 



43. Mid-shot. Eugene starts to run round. In the 
iheme the direction of his run across the frame is shown 
!the dotted arrow. The granite rock is taken in profile. 
'he horse and Peter's figure are cut off by the edge of 
ie frame. The viewpoint is chosen in order to make 
:e railings the background of Eugene's flight. 

44. The turn of the ' Brazen Horseman '. The first 
lase of the turn, through 75 °. The turn is achieved by 
rrying the camera in a circle around the monument. 

45. Eugene runs round the monument from right 

left. The viewpoint is taken from above, so that the 

irve of the railings, seen in the left-hand corner of 

te frame, visually duplicates the curve of Eugene's run. 

46. Second phase of the ' Horseman's turn ', through 
further 75 °. As in shot 44, Peter's figure and the 
arse's muzzle are partly cut off by the frame limit. 

47. Eugene runs across the frame from right to left, 
'he viewpoint is taken from above, so that his figure is 
irown entirely against the background of the cobble- 
:oned roadway. We exclude the horizon from the field 
f vision in this case, because if the flight were brought 
lto relation with the distant line of the horizon we 
r ould not obtain the necessary effect of speed (this 
)mark also applies to shot 45). 

48. Third phase of the ' Horseman's turn ', through 
further 75 °. With each successive phase of the turn the 
peed of shooting is slightly reduced, and in consequence 
ach successive phase shows an acceleration in speed of 
lrn when projected on to the screen. 




'I I )+*- 


49. Eugene runs into the frame. On the right-hjd 
side is the railing, the curve of which duplicates ie 
curve of his run. The shot is taken with short-fo s 
lens, and so his movement towards the camera acquis 
tremendous impetuosity. 

50, 50a and $ob. Three short editing pieces, com- 
pleting the turn of the ' Brazen Horseman \ Shot 3 
gives the first phase of the turn, through 45 °. 

50a. Second [editing piece, a further turn throu 


50b. Third editing piece, a further turn throui 
45 , bringing the ' Horseman ' back to his origii! 
position. The figure is taken in strong foreshortenm 
In all three pieces the shot is taken slowly, so that wh,[ 
projected the speed of the turn is very fast. SwifV 
moving clouds form the background to all three pieces,, 

51. Eugene runs into the frame from the left, ar 
falls on one knee. The viewpoint is from above, 
part of the railing is visible in the upper part of tj 

52. Close-up of Eugene fallen on one knee. Tl 
close-up is composed diagonally, with the figure sharp 
inclined. The shot is taken with a short-focus lens, 
the depth of the shot is in focus. Part of the railing 
clearly visible. 



53. Eugene's foreshortened face. A close-up, face 
the camera. Diagonal composition. 

54. ' Editing formula ' for Eugene's crushing under- 
)t. Three cutting pieces. The first piece shows the 
rse's hoofs, taken very close up, with a short-focus 
is (focal length — 28 mm.). Strong optical distortion. 

54«. Second piece : The horse's muzzle, taken on 
ge scale. Shot with the same lens giving strong 
tical foreshortening. 

546. Peter's face and burning eyes. Very short 
tting piece. 

i 55. Eugene's eyes, on very large scale. Diagonal 
mposition, the same diagonal as that of the close-up 
Eugene in shot 53. Sharp optical delineation, harsh, 
itrasted lighting. 

56. Repetition of the ' editing formula ' for crushing 
Jerfoot, but in the contrary order. First cutting 
!ce; Peter's face strongly foreshortened. 



560. Second cutting piece : the horse's muz2, 
The foreshortening and the optical distortion intensify, 


limin e 



56b. Third cutting piece : the horse's hoofs, 
shortening and optical distortion intensified. 


57. Eugene bursts into the frame, covering his fa 
against a blow. In the same shot he turns sharply ai 
passes beyond the field of vision. 

58. The beginning of the shot of Eugene's 1 
along the second spiral. The viewpoint is from abo\ 
The direction of the run is shown by the dotted arrow. 

58^. The cobbled roadway, and part of the railing 
The shadow of the ' Horseman ' comes into the fram 
appearing from the lower left-hand corner. (In th ] 
and all the similar following shots the shadow is supe 
imposed by laboratory methods from a previously tak< 1 

59. The shadow of the ' Horseman ' extends aero 
the roadway and passes out of the frame, moving in tl 
same direction as Eugene's run. 



60. The granite rock, without the ' Horseman', 
lis may be achieved by taking an exposure on the 
t with the aid of a screening mask. The monument is 
)tographed, but in exposure the image of the horseman 
>bscured by a cut-out mask. After the first exposure 
the exposed negative is wound back to the first frame, 
I a second exposure is taken. All that part of the 
■ative on which the granite rock has been taken is 
cured by a mask, and clouds flying across the sky are 
)tographed on the unexposed upper part of the frames.) 

61. Editing cut-in. A cloud swiftly coveis the face 
he moon. Composed along the diagonal shown by 
dotted arrow. 

62. The shadow of the ' Horseman 
ne along the same diagonal. 

flies across the 

63. A corner of a house in the upper part of the 
ne. Eugene runs across along the same diagonal as 

of the preceding frames. At the spot indicated in 
scheme by the turn of a dotted arrow, he falls and 
s for a moment. Then he passes beyond the camera's 
I of vision. For a few seconds the spectator sees an 
>ty frame. 

63a. The same cutting piece. The shadow of the 

azen Horseman ' runs into the frame, halts in the 

re for a moment, then passes beyond the field of 

64. The granite rock without the ' Brazen Horse- 

' X if 




65. Editing cut-in. A cloud covers the moon. "Ji 
direction of the cloud is indicated on the scheme b\i 
dotted arrow. 

66. The shadow of the ' Horseman 
the frame along the same diagonal. 

passes acre 

67. The ' Horseman's leap \ Effected by 
1 editing formula ' of three pieces. First piece : 
horse's hoof strongly foreshortened with extreme opti 

67a. Second cutting piece. The horse's muz:: 1 
strongly foreshortened with extreme optical distortion. 

67b. Third cutting piece. Peter's outstretched ar 
composed perspectively, along the diagonal of the fran 
The wrist is disproportionately enlarged, owing to 
optical distortion. (Taken with lens of 25 mm. fa; 

68. Part of the Neva embankment seen on t 
horizon. On the left side is a corner of a house. Lor 
shot taken from an upper viewpoint. Eugene 
across the frame and disappears round the corner of t 
house. On the scheme the direction of his run is in 
cated by a dotted line. At the point marked by a en 
he makes a turn. 



69. Repetition of the previous ' editing formula ' : 
t ' Horseman's leap '. First cutting piece: the horse's 

69a. Second cutting piece : the horse's muzzle 
ctically distorted. 

696. Third cutting piece : Peter's outstretched arm. 
nditions of shooting the same as for shot 676. 

t 70. The shadow of the ' Brazen Horseman ' passes 
gross the frame, in the direction shown by the dotted 
£ ow. 

71 . Eugene runs in the same direction, making a turn 
£ the point marked with a cross. This shot duplicates 
I run in shot 68, with the difference that in this case he 
iiis towards the camera. The principle of the con- 
s uction is the same as for shot 68. The compositional 
secession is preserved, so serving as a link between 
t^se two shots. Thus, when edited there is no break 
i the continuity of Eugene's flight. 

1 72. The ' Horseman's leap '. First cutting piece 
:• horse's hoof. 








72a. Second cutting piece : the horse's muzzle. 

726. Third cutting piece : Peter's face. In all thr 
pieces the same conditions of shooting are observed 
in the previous repetitions of this ' editing formula '. 

73. The shadow of the ' Horseman ' passes aero 
the frame in the direction indicated by the arrow (tl 
contrary direction to that of Eugene in the followir 


74. Long-shot taken from an upper viewpoint. Tl 
tiny figure of Eugene runs diagonally across the frame. 

75. The same set-up. The shadow of the ' Hors< 
man ' passes along the same diagonal. 

76. Eugene runs into the frame and falls. Diagons 
composition. For some seconds he lies motionless 
Then he tries to rise. The shadow of the ' Horseman 
passes into the frame in the same direction, and cover 



i 77. Final repetition of the editing formula for 
Ejene being crushed underfoot. Cutting pieces con- 

l of six or seven frames each. 
p ;e : the horse's hoof. 

First cutting 

77a. The horse's muzzle. 

77b. Peter's foreshortened face. 

78. Peter's head, taken in profile. Back lighting. 
1 e camera moves towards him, and the black silhouette 
the head slowly fills all the frame field of vision. The 
dtribution of the silhouette in its final phase is shown 
iithe scheme by a dark contour. 

79. A cloud slowly covers the moon. 
A faded out pause. 

A slow fade- 

80. The silhouette of the ' Brazen Horseman', 
y tiding motionless on the granite rock, slowly fades 
1 from the obscurity. The monument is taken in 
P>file. The viewpoint is at average height. Only 
k lighting. The completely black sky serves as 
I :kground. Compositionally the ' Brazen Horseman ' 
5i)uld be static. The shot fades out. 

777^ t 




Arising out of the foregoing analysis, we must note the following fa 
which are directly connected with the practical exploitation of a number of spe 
resources of the camera-man's art. 

1. The change in the tone of the image throughout the scenario fragm« 
From a lowered tone in the opening shots, the tone of the image is raised to de 
of lightness in the group of shots covering the ' dialogue ' with Peter and i| 
pursuit, lowering again in the closing shots. This change in tone is achiev 
first by the selection of appropriate lighting schemes, and second by variati 
in exposure. 

2. The change in the texture of the image. The opening shots are g: 
softened optical treatment, to correspond with the low tone. A sharp for* 
transmission is employed in the * dialogue ' with Peter and during the pursi, 
and is followed by the use of softening lenses during the final episode. Togetl- 
with a change in the optical transmission there is a change in the lighting treatm<t 
of the texture of the object. 

3. Foreshortening construction is almost completely absent during 1; 
opening shots. The greatest resort to foreshortening constructions comes dun; 
the middle section (the ' dialogue ', the Horseman's rearing, and the pursui 1 

4. Optical distortion, achieved by the use of a short-focus lens, is mair 
employed in foreshortening constructions. 

5. The shooting speed is exploited in several ways as a means of expressi: 
organisation of the dynamic processes. The turns of the Horseman gradua r 
become swifter in correspondence with the acceleration of Eugene's flig 
Eugene's hurried running to and fro is achieved by slowing up the shooti; 
speed. The movement of the clouds is arbitrarily made swifter and slowed I 
by changing the shooting speed, in dependence upon the episode into which t 
particular editing piece is cut. 

6. In certain cases the cutting-off of the image involves bringing the frai 
limit horizontals into a slanting position in relation to the true horizontal of t 
field of vision. This applies primarily to the foreshortening constructions of t 
close-ups of Eugene. 

Thus, by considering each shot separately we can draw up a detailed e 
planation of the technical resources by means of which the given compositioi 
scheme can be carried out. 

In the foregoing analysis we have contented ourselves with reducing t 
task to a simple scheme of linear dimensional composition, which establishes t 
disposition of the objects in the frame field of vision. Many directors and camei 
men are in the habit of fixing the compositional task not only in the form of 
simplified linear scheme, but also in that of a developed sketch. For instanc 
the director L. Kuleshov made compositional sketches for his film " The Gre 
Consoler ". Fig. 54 reproduces a sketch for linear composition and Fig. 56 i 
lighting of long-shots in that film. 

Further we give examples of compositional schemes for various films ma 
outside the U.S.S.R. Fig. 53 is a scheme of linear- dimensional composition f 
a mid-shot from the American film " The Big House ". This figure provides 
complete compositional scheme, for the cut-offs of the frame limits, the distortio 
and the viewpoint for the objects are all clearly fixed. 

In the case of Fig. 55 also, behind the apparent simplicity of the shot whi< 
we see on the screen there has obviously been a great deal of creative work. Tr 
sketch gives a scheme not only for the disposition of the objects, but also f 
lighting. Figs. 57 and 58 were used for a German documentary. 



Fig. 53.— Sketch of 
liiar-dimensional com- 
p ition for a shot in 
tf American film " The 
B House ". 





Fig. 54. — Sketch of linear dimensional composition for a shot in the film " The Great 
Consoler ", by L. Kuleshov (dir.). 



55-— (fk 
positional slch 
for the film " Itf 
of Bagdad " 

Fig. 56. — Sketch of lighting composition for a shot in " The Great Consoler". 



g. 57. — Com- 
o ional sketch 
01 ' The Mooring 
f an Airship " 

Fig. 58. — Compositional sketch for " The Mooring of an Airship " (medium shot). 



The dynamics of any shot may be displayed by means of the direct mo 1 - 
ment of the object in the shot (or the movement of the camera viewpoint in re- 
tion to the object), and also by a suitable form of compositional construction f 
the static object. In the first case the predominant factor in the dynamics f 
the shot will be a direct kinetic movement. In the second case it will be a pott- 
tial movement of representational forms static in themselves, and expressed al 
emphasised by the compositional construction. 

This division into the kinetics of the shot and the potential movement [ 
representational forms essentially static is only abstracted for the purpose I 
analysis ; for the conception of the dynamics of the shot is itself a generalisatii 
embracing both the elements of kinetics and the elements of compositional mov 
ment of representational forms. In addition, in all cases the dynamics of t; 
separate shot is bound up with the dynamics of editing composition, apart fro 
which there cannot be correct determination of the movement inside the sh< 

In regard to the question of movement in the shot, we consider it mc: 
essential to define those main methods of dynamic organisation of the shot whi 
are of practical importance for the camera-man. If the camera-man has i 
definite idea of the main principles of dynamic construction of the shot, t 
kinetic movement usually develops into a primitive muddle. This is especial 
the case when he is faced with the task of planning a mass scene with intensi 
movement. Not infrequently the massing of two or three hundred people h 
much less expressive effect upon the spectator than the correctly organised mov 
ment of twenty to thirty persons. 

Consideration of the eight schemes of direction of kinetic movement with 
the shot given in Fig. 59 will lead us to determine two factors. The first is tl 
direction of the kinetic movement in relation to the frame limits. This directic 
is marked by an arrow. The second is the direction of the kinetic movement 
relation to the static surroundings serving as background for that movemer 
The composition of the static surroundings is formally indicated by parallel lin 
in the schemes. 

In the first scheme the static background is composed along one diagon 
of the frame, while the movement of the object is in a direction contrary to tb 
diagonal. The dynamic tendencies are sharply emphasised, on the one hand t 
the contraposition of the object's movement with the composition of the bad 
ground, and on the other by the conflict between the direction of the movemei 
and the sides of the frame. 



Fig. 59. — Plan of directions of kinetic movement in the frame. 

In the second scheme this conflict between the direction of the movement 
nd the composition of the static background is absent, and because of this there 
/ill be less dynamism revealed in the frame. 

In the third scheme we have the same composition as in the second, but it 
b along the contrary diagonals. The fourth scheme gives a composition analogous 

that of the first, but also along the contrary diagonals. In the fifth scheme 
he composition of the background is in a direction parallel to the direction of 
he horizontal sides of the frame. But the movement occurs in a direction 
parallel to the vertical sides. The movement will be expressed in a weaker form 
•y comparison with the first scheme, for the conflict between the direction of 
(he movement and the composition of the background is obscured by the parallel 
qualities of the frame sides. 

1 Finally, we get the weakest demonstration of dynamism in composition in 
he schemes six and eight. Here the movement flows parallel both to the sides 
»f the frame and to the direction taken in composing the background. The 
eventh scheme is analogous to the fifth. 

Thus we get the greatest expression of dynamism in those forms of diagonal 
iomposition of the movement in which the static background is composed along 
ihe contrary diagonal. And we get a weakened effect if the direction of the 
aovement is paralleled either by the frame sides, or by the composition of the 

Only when the subject motivation of the movement is defined with suffi- 
ient clarity can the camera-man select one or another scheme of movement in 
ompositional construction. It far from always follows that the purpose of the 
hot involves the necessity to seek the greatest expression of dynamism. In 
iertain cases the needs of the narrative demand a weakened dynamic effect, and 
;hen he must use a composition that will satisfy this particular scenario and 
iirectorial demand. 

The second method of revealing the dynamics of the frame arises from those 
types of compositional construction in which the dynamic tendencies are revealed 
p the potential movement of representational forms which in themselves are 
ssentially static. Into this category come first and foremost foreshortening 
onstructions. By their very nature such constructions presume the presence of 
dynamic tendency, carrying the object out of the stable equilibrium of the 
tatic strictly horizontal or vertical composition. 



The dynamic impulse is the dominating factor in foreshortening constn. 
tion, and from this aspect it is difficult to conceive of foreshortening apart frci 
the dynamism inherent in it. 

Fig. 60 gives three photographs showing the ' Brazen Horseman ' in suca 
sively increasing foreshortening. 

In the top shot, taken from one side, there is relatively little foreshortenir. 1 
The middle shot shows increased foreshortening, while the viewpoint has bei 
shifted somewhat to the left. In this shot the dynamic effect is intensified n] 
only by increasing the foreshortening, but also by scale enlargement of the obje< 
In the bottom shot there is still greater foreshortening, and the figure is st 
larger. The dynamic effect is at the maximum by comparison with the precedii 

If we edit these shots in the above order, we get the effect of the monume 
' rearing', which we required in " The Brazen Horseman " scenario treated in Se 
tion 5. Provided the editing pieces are cut to the necessary shortness, tl 
dynamism of the foreshortening construction of each separate shot is transfern 
to the dynamism of editing. 

We could achieve an effect analogous in principle by continuous shifting 1 
the camera viewpoint, at the same time gradually bringing the camera nearer tl 
object. In that case we should get a single, continuous editing piece, in whic 
the object would gradually pass through all the stages of foreshortening coi 
struction. The dynamic effect would be achieved solely by the agency of t\ 
intra-shot dynamism, without resort to the dynamism of editing. 

In foreshortening constructions the exclusion of a static point of suppo: 
from the field of vision plays an essential part. If we shoot a man first full lengt 
and then from the waist upward, using the same foreshortening construction, th 
dynamic effect will be stronger in the second than in the first case, because th 
static point of support will be invisible to the spectator. The same effect : 
noticeable in glancing at the three shots of the ' Brazen Horseman ' we have jus 
discussed. The more comprehensive the composition, the closer we approac 
to revealing the static point of support, the weaker becomes the dynamic effec 
of the foreshortening construction. 

We must also briefly consider a few general factors determining the element 
of static and dynamic composition in the construction of the shot. 

A symmetrical, frontal construction, distinguished by the stability of it 
equilibrium, least of all reveals the dynamic tendencies of the object. 

On the other hand, an asymmetrical, diagonal construction is the char 
acteristic feature of dynamic construction. 

A flat, single-planed construction is less dynamic than one with depth an< 
several planes. The existence of several planes creates the illusion of depth, an< 
the eye, linking up the middle ground with the background, is more disposed t< 
perceive the dynamism than in the case of a static contemplation of a single 
planed, flat construction. The impression of depth is almost always evoked b] 
the juxtaposition of the middle with the background, and the dynamic effect 
a linear perspective passing into the distance essentially depends on this factor 

The diagonal composition of a linear perspective in turn gives a stronger 
dynamic effect than a symmetrical composition from a central viewpoint. 

From the aspect of the tone of the shot, compositions built up on sharp tona 
contrast will be more dynamic than compositions carried out in softened anc 
monotonous tone. 

A sharp optical transmission is more conducive to the perception of a dynamic 


Fig. 60. — Dynamism 
h aid of foreshortening 



subject than is a softened optical transmission of the ' picture-book ' type, c,. 
posing to a passive, contemplative perception. 

The foregoing general factors all affect the method of displaying the dynamin 
of the representational elements in the shot. It has to be emphasised that e 
dynamic effect of a single shot in its general form cannot be determined apt 
from the editing composition of the given episode, just as it is not possible] 
find a compositional form for any shot apart from the general element of co- 
positional succession. 

If we isolate a single element in the shot, and give it dynamic impulse wii- 
out taking into account the compositional task of the shot as a whole, we viol;? 
the intra-shot responsibilities of the narrative development, which in turn affe I 
the development of the narrative in the editing composition of the film. Tj 
statics and dynamics of each shot are inseparably bound up with the statics a I 
dynamics of the narrative development. As in the case of general composition 
problems, the static or dynamic determination of each shot can be decided upi 
only by analysing the narrative development of the scenario in its final forn 

So that, in this regard also, the element of compositional succession is : 
prime importance. 



We must briefly summarise the abstract methodic scheme of compositional 
eatment worked out in the preceding sections. 

i. Ascertaining the theme of the literary fragment. 

2. Deciding upon the representational characteristics according to the 

scenario material. 

3. Exposition of the main tendencies of the treatment. 

4. Exposition of the narrative. 

5. Construction of the mise en scene. 

6. The directorial distribution into shots. 

7. Deciding the shooting point and the editing groups according to the 

mise en scene and the shot distribution. 

8. Working out the compositional schemes. 

9. The technical interpretation of the compositional schemes. 

The foregoing summary is an approximate outline of the way in which the 
lematic task set by the literary scenario is concretely realised in the taken film, 
number of conclusions follow from this. 

The camera-man may have a varying degree of freedom in the course of 
;alising the task in the representational treatment of the film. He may have : 

1. Maximum freedom. — In this case he is given a theme which serves as the 
arting-point from which he carries out all the treatment from beginning to end. 
his happens almost exclusively in the sphere of the news film. The newsreel 
imera-man carries out his own independent narrative treatment of the news 
itline, being responsible for it through all the stages of creative achievement. 

2. A scenario task already distributed into shots. — In this case the narrative 
as already been given concrete form, and the shot distribution has been made. 
1 shooting a story-film the camera-man proceeds on the basis of the director's 
^rbal explanations of the action, and reduces the representational treatment to 
)ncrete form. 

3. Minimum freedom. — In addition to receiving a scenario already distributed 
lto shots, the camera-man is also provided with a compositional scheme or 
cetch. He has only to realise the optical image which is schematically provided 
1 the sketch. 

In all these cases it is possible to determine the correct representational 
eatment of each shot only if the camera-man has a clear understanding of the 
itrinsic, inseparable connection between the various stages of realising the 
leme, their relation to one another, and their role in developing the theme as 
whole. Only thus will the main determining feature of the camera-man's work, 
ie feature of compositional succession, be revealed. 

IJ 3 



Before formulating the final conclusions of this chapter, we must consid. 
one other problem which plays a highly important part in clearly elucidating tl 
specific qualities of compositional construction of the cinema shot. 

Are there any such things as compositional formulae which can be applie 
to individual shots without taking into account the factor of composition; 
succession ? 

This question arises when the camera-man attempts to isolate a separat 
shot as an independent representation unit from the general editing contex 
In such cases it is not unusual for the camera-man to lay down a number c 
compositional ' laws ' which are mechanically applicable to any composition; 
task. Such ' laws ' are to be found in many practical primers on art-photograph 
and cinema. v 

In order to demonstrate the worthlessness of such ' laws ' when applied ti 
the specific features of composition of the cinema shot, we will consider certain 
1 generally accepted ' assumptions of this kind. The following material is bori 
rowed partly from an American manual, " The Perfect Photograph ", and parti 
from German handbooks on amateur cinematography. 

The horizon should not cut the middle of the frame. 
The horizon line must not run parallel to the lower limit of the frame, 
ur JseT CamCra ShOUM bC SCt UP Perfectly horizontall y (the tripod provides a level for thi. 
An image with a balanced and monotonous foreground is not expressive. 

When photographing architecture the image should not be ' leant ' Strong: fore- 
shortening results in distortion. 8 

Vinci^ P6rSpeCtive muSt be built U P alon S the frame diagonals (study Leonardo ck 

An object photographed from above, down the verticals, loses its form. 

Too large a close-up is inartistic. 

A wide-angle lens distorts the perspective. 

The depth of the picture should be in focus. 

An object photographed from below is distorted. 

Use soft, diffused lighting. 

Fill the frame-space in a balanced manner. 

of thI h p e icTure tTo" ^ C ° mP ° Sed * ^ ^ ° f ^ frame ' ° the ™'™ ^ U ^ 
the screen. m ° VementS are not con ducive to good photography. They are blurred on 

in hdf-shadow d ° WS and Silh ° uettes are not P leasa "t when projected on the screen. Work 

And so on. 

Every law, every formula warns you against ' distortion and deformation '. 
1 he spectator is afraid of sharp impressions ' ; he wants quietly to contemplate 
normal images such as he is accustomed to seeing in nature. 

1 his dogmatism in regard to ' distortions ' and ' foreshortenings ' has long 
since been disproved by cinematography. On the screen we see shots taken 
rom an aeroplane, and so having no horizon at all ; we see people taken from 
the same viewpoint silhouettes with 'unbalanced' lighting, close-ups without 
depth, architecture filmed down the verticals-in a word, everything that con- 
tradicts the artistic in the narrow, abstractly formal sense in which writers use 



t ; word. The camera is set up crookedly and sideways, the lens gazes upward 
ad downward, sharp movements are blurred on the screen : and yet it is impos- 
sile to deny that these shots are expressive. Any newsreel camera-man in 
#tion is a practical proof of the stupidity of such compositional restrictions, yet 
ii the debris of antediluvian conservatism this doctrine of ' distortions ' con- 
t iues to exist, mutilating and crushing the artistic sense of cinema youth with its 
'iuthority '. 

What is at the back of it all ? What is the real danger in ' foreshortening ' 
i d ' distortion ', and where have we to be on our guard against it ? 

The danger in ' foreshortening ' arises wherever it violates the correct treat- 
ment of the content of each separate shot, wherever there is violation of the unity 
1 tween the shot functional task and its formal accomplishment. If the com- 
psitional construction of the shot does not express the functional task decided 
Don after analysis of the content of the scenario editing scheme, there will cer- 
idnly be a cleavage between the psychological action of the optical image and 
;e significance of the art-image as conceived in the scenario. In that case there 
ill be self-sufficient juggling, an aestheticising formalism. Hence it is obvious 
at any contradictions between the representational and the scenario-directorial 
eatment of the scenario must in reality have a far deeper basis in principle than 
at of the formal determination of a single isolated shot, considered apart from 
Le editing context. Hence any ' laws ' of composition have to be deduced not 
y analysing a single shot, but by establishing the general principle of composition 
the cinema ; the principle determining the general method of compositional 

In the foregoing analysis we have abstractly distinguished four main ten- 
ancies which involve four forms of determining the general compositional task. 

First form. — This is dimensional-spatial determination of the composition, 
r, as we conditionally call it, the linear -dimensional composition. When distri- 
cting the objects in the frame space we make the basis not the elements char- 
:terising the aesthetic perfection of the single photograph, but the aggregate of 
xpressive elements typical of the system of shots in their editing context. 

Second form : Lighting composition, which is in dependence upon the char- 
ter of the determination of the dimensional-spatial composition of the shot. 

Third form : Tonal composition, which is functionally bound up with lighting 

Fourth form : Temporal composition, engendered of the aggregate of kinetic 
lements. This compositional form determines the internal frame rhythm, and 
i in direct dependence upon the rhythm of the editing. 

!What interaction is there among these four compositional forms ? 
We hold that they can be regarded both as four successive stages of deter- 
mination of the general compositional task, and also as four independent types 
i composition. If the camera-man is dominated by an* ornamental-superficial 
onception of the shot, one may reasonably presume that dimensional-spatial 
! lements will play a secondary role in his decisions. But if he regards depth 
•erception as primary, obviously dimensional-spatial decisions will characterise his 
york. In practice either this or one of the other forms of compositional decision 
lways predominates. In addition, it is possible to have stylistic decisions entirely 
Constructed on one type of composition and suppressing all the other elements. 
In the most naive and elementary films we find cinematic production con- 
ducted on the content unity of the narrative, apart from any attempt at com- 
positional portrayal of the dramaturgic and directorial task. 



There may also be a content unity based on the unity of the lighting 
tone composition, or on the unity of the rhythmic elements. 

Or we may have a transformation of the narrative and content unity 
an organic unity of all the four compositional forms possessed by the cine 
representational technique, and then we get the highest, most valuable and p 
feet form of interaction between editing composition and shot composition. 

In all four cases unity may be achieved not only by the simple ' cor 
pondence ' of compositional forms, but, in accordance with the development 
associative thought, we can employ any compositional form in accordance eit 
with the element of associative contiguity, or with that of associative contr 
The lighting and tone compositions may be independent lines of developmen 
the editing scheme, and may even be contraposed to the form of linear c 
position ; but in the general conjunction of all four forms we must achiev 
content unity determining the correctness of the entire compositional decis 
as a whole. 

A unity of the various compositional forms apart from the general narrati 
content motivation leads to a formalistic determination of the compositional task 
in other words, to a disjunction of the representational treatment of the film fron 
the dramaturgic and directorial treatment. 

Thus we get the first, and in our view the only compositional law : the lai 
of the organic co- subordination of the whole and its parts. 

This involves a co-subordination of the editing composition and shot com 
position on the one hand, and the co-subordination of the compositional form: 
of the various shots to the principle of compositional succession on the other 

To illustrate this interconditionality of the intra- and inter-shot construction 
we give an example of perspective analysis of linear composition made by Eisen 
stein in respect to one of the episodes of his film " Potemkin ". In Figs. 61-62 art 
given fourteen successive shots from the scene preceding the firing on the ' Odessa 
Steps.' In this scene the inhabitants of Odessa send yawls with food to th< 
insurgent battleship. 

We reproduce the analysis of the linear-dimensional composition in the 
exact form given by Eisenstein. 1 

The sending of greetings to the battleship is constructed on the definite 
crossing of two themes : 

1. The yawls speeding to the battleship. 

2. The inhabitants of Odessa waving. 
Finally, these two themes are fused together. 

The basis of the composition is that of depth and foreground. The themes 
dominate the picture in turn, each in turn advancing to the foreground, and each 
in turn thrusting the other into the background. 

The composition is built up : (1) On the plastic interaction of depth and 
foreground within the shot. (2) On the change of lines and form in depth and 
foreground from shot to shot (achieved by editing). In the second case the com- 
positional play consists of the action of the plastic impression of the preceding 
shot in conflict or interaction with the succeeding shot. (At the moment we are 
basing our analysis purely on the spatial and linear element. The rhythmic and 
temporal correlations are discussed elsewhere.) 

The movement of the composition (see Figs. 61-62) takes the following 
course : 

1 This matter is dealt with by him at greater length in the forthcoming monograph- 
symposium on " Potemkin " shortly to be published in U.S.S.R. — Ed. 



I. The yawls in movement. A smooth move- 
unt, parallel to the horizontal limits of the frame. 
1 1 the field of vision is occupied by the first theme, 
re horizontal play of small, vertical sails. 

II. Intensified movement of the yawls of the 
1st theme (also aided by the emergence of the second 
ieme). The second theme comes to the foreground 
1 way of the strict rhythm of the motionless 

rtical columns. The vertical lines foreshadow 
Je plastic distribution of the future figures (in 
Jots IV, V, etc.). Interplay of the horizontal 

ive troughs and the vertical lines. The yawl 

erne is pushed back into the depth of the shot. 
]he plastic theme of the arch emerges in the lower 

rt of the shot. 

III. The plastic theme of the arch grows 
itil it fills the entire frame. The play caused by 
iange in construction from vertical lines to the arch, 
he theme of the verticals is retained in the move- 
ent of the people going away from the camera, 
he yawl theme is finally thrust into the background. 

IV. The plastic theme of the arch finally 
cupies the foreground. From formulation in 
rms of an arc it passes into the opposite construc- 
pn, which is indicated by the contour of a group 
rmulated in terms of a circle (the umbrella pre- 
*ures the composition). The same transition to 
mtraposed construction occurs also within the 
;rtical construction : the backs of tiny figures 
issing into the depth are replaced by large figures 
ken fron tally, and retaining their places. The 
ieme of the yawl movement is retained in reflec- 
on : in the expression of the eyes and their 
ovement along a horizontal line. 

V. In the foreground is a common compo- 
tional variation : an even number of people is 
placed by an uneven number. Two by three, 
'his ' golden rule ' of change of the mise en sdne has 
^hind it a tradition which can be traced back to the 
:alian " Commedia dell' Arte " (at the same time the 
irection of the glances also crosses). The arch 

lotive again emerges, with the arch this time bent in the opposite direction. It is repeated 
id supported by a new parallel arch motive in the background : the balustrade. The 
awl theme is represented in movement. The gaze of the eyes extends right across the 
orizontals of the frame. 

\ VI. Shots I to V give the transition from the yawls theme to the watchers' theme, 
eveloped in five editing pieces. The interval V to VI brings a sharp return transition 
om the watchers to the yawls. Strictly in accordance with the content, the composition 
Jects a swift transformation by all its characteristic features into its opposite. From the 
iepth the line of the balustrade is swiftly brought into the foreground, being repeated by 
ne line of the boat's gunwale. It is doubled by the boat's water-line. The main elements 
f the composition are the same but the treatment is contraposed : shot V is static, shot 
T is crosslined by the dynamic of the boat's movement. The vertical division into ' three * 
p retained in both shots. The central element is texturally similar (the woman's blouse, 
nd the material of the sail). The side elements are in sharp contrast : the black patches 
r the men on either side of the woman and the white gaps at the sides of the sail. The 
ertical distribution is also contrasted : the three figures cut off by the bottom horizontal 
; f the frame undergo transition into the vertical sail cut off by the upper horizontal of the 
rame. In the background emerges a new theme — the battleship side, cut off at the top 
preparation for shot VII). 

VII. A new, sharp turn in the theme. The theme of the background — the battleship 
-is brought to the foreground (the jump in the theme from shot V to shot VI served as 


Fig. 61. — Analysis of linear-dimen- 
sional composition in an episode 
of the film " The Battleship 
Potemkin ". 


a kind of ' anticipation ' of the jump from shot VI 
shot VII). The viewpoint is changed by 180 : 
shot taken from the battleship, the reverse of sh< 
VI. This time the side of the battleship is in tl 
foreground, and is cut off at the bottom. In tl 
depth is the sails theme, expressed in verticals. Tl 
vertical of the sailors. The gun-barrel statical 
continues the line of the boat's movement in trj 
preceding shot. The battleship side appears to t 
an arc, which passes into a straight line. 

VIII. This repeats IV with heightened ir 
tensity. The horizontal play of the eyes is tranj 
formed into the vertical of waving hands. Fror 
the depth the theme of the vertical has emerged t 
the foreground, repeating the thematic transferenc 
of attention to the watchers. 

IX. Two faces, on larger scale. Generall, 
speaking, an unfortunate combination with the pre 
ceding shot. It would have been better to hav 
introduced between them a shot of three faces, t 
have repeated shot V for example, also in heightens 
intensity. This would have produced the construe 
tion 2:3:2. Moreover, the repetition of th 
familiar group in shots IV and V with the new endinj 
shot IX would have heightened the impression of thi 
last shot. The position is saved by some enlarge 
ment of the scale. 

X. The two faces pass into one. A ven 
energetic throw of a hand up beyond the frame limit 
A correct alternation of faces (if we make the sug- 
gested correction between shots VIII and IX) 2 : 3 
2:1. A second couple correctly enlarged in size ir 
relation to the first couple (exact quantitative repe- 
tition with qualitative variation). The line of the 
odd numbers is different in both quality and 
quantity (different dimensions of faces and a different 
number, while retaining the common element of odd 

XI. A new sharp turn in the theme. A jump 
repeating the jump between shots V and VI in 
heightened intensity. The vertical upthrow of the 

arm in the preceding shot is repeated by the vertical sail. But the vertical of this sail 
shoots up from the horizontal. A repetition of the theme of shot VI in greater intensity, 
and a repetition of composition II with the difference that the themes of the horizontals 
of the boats' movement and the verticals of the motionless columns are here blended into 
the one horizontal movement of a vertical sail. The composition repeats the thematic 
line of union and the fusion of yawls with the people on the shore (before passing to the 
final theme of fusion : of the shore by way of the boats with the battleship). 

XII. The sail of shot XI is broken up into innumerable vertical sails scudding along 
in a horizontal direction (a repetition of shot I in heightened intensity). The small sails 
move in the opposite direction from that of the large sail. 

XIII. Having broken up into small sails, the large sail is assembled again, not into 
a sail, but into the flag flying above the " Potemkin ". A new quality in this piece : it is 
both static and mobile — the mast is vertical and motionless, the flag flutters in the wind. 
Formally shot XIII repeats shot XI. But the substitution of the flag for the sail transforms 
the principle of plastic unification into an ideological-thematic unification. We have not 
only a vertical plastically uniting the various elements of the composition, but a revolu- 
tionary banner uniting battleship, boats and the shore. 

XIV. Thence we have a natural return from flag to battleship. Shot XIV repeats 
shot VII, also in heightened intensity. 

This same shot introduces a new compositional group expressing inter-relationships 
between the yawls and the battleship, in distinction from that of the first group dealing 


Fig. 62. — Analysis of linear-dimen- 
sional composition in an episode 
of the film " The Battleship 
Potemkin ". 


th yawls and the shore. The first group expressed the theme : ' the yawls carry greetings 

d gifts from the shore to the battleship '. The second group will express the fraternisation 

boats and battleship. 
The compositional dividing-point, and simultaneously the ideological unifier of both 

rnpositional groups, is the mast with the revolutionary flag. 

Shot VII, repeated by the first section of the second group XIV, is a kind of fore- 
arning of the second group and also the element linking the two groups to each other, 

though the latter group had made a ' raid ' into the first group. In the second group 
e same role will be played by the sections showing figures waving, cut in between the 
enes of fraternisation between the yawls and the battleship. 

It must not be thought that the shooting and planning of these pieces were 
irried out in accordance with these tables, drawn up a priori. Of course not. 
ut the assembly and distribution of these pieces at the cutting bench was already- 
early dictated by the compositional requirements of the cinematographic form, 
hese requirements dictated the selection of these pieces out of all those at the 
irector's disposition, and they also established the logical sequence of their 
ternation. In point of fact, these pieces, considered only from the narrative 
id theme aspect, could be rearranged in almost any combination, but in that 
ise the compositional movement through their sequence being less logical in its 
instruction, the result would hardly be so effective even from the strictly narra- 
|ve or thematic point of view. 




f CINEMATOGRAPHIC production is closely bound up with a highly com- 
plicated technical process. The organisation of the shooting process 
^^A occupies 90 per cent of the total time occupied in making a film from 
art to finish. 1 If only for this reason, the organisation of the camera-man's 
eative process calls for great systematisation and intensive thought. 

In the ideal case, namely, when we are working in a creative group in which 
rector and camera-man have been associated in uninterrupted work for many 
iars, the camera-man does, in fact, take part in the creation of the film right 
om the moment that the author's intention is formulated in the scenario, 
ogether with the director he collects and considers the material for the direc- 
>rial scenario, together with him he decides upon the chief objects of each shot, 
id their character. For the camera-man this is essentially the most valuable 
age of the preparatory work, for it is during this period that it is easiest for him 
) come to a clear, mutual understanding with the director. 

However, such creative groups, built up in the course of long association, 
ire very few in actual cinema practice. In the present-day system of production 
lie camera-man begins to participate in the preparatory work only when the 
irector has completely finished his plans for the film. 

In the interests of our further conclusions we must here give a brief definition 
f the process of working out a scenario according to its various stages. 

In future we shall use the term ' literary ' or ' author's scenario ' for the 
xposition of the film content in its abstract literary distribution into shots. 

By ' director's scenario ' 2 we mean the exposition of the film content with 
Irecise directorial distribution into shots, which also include indications of the 
lethods by which the director intends to carry through each shot (the director's 

By the term ' production scenario ' 3 we mean the exact production project 
f the future film, which is drawn up as the result of the collective creative activity 
f the director, camera-man, art director, and sound recordist. The production 

1 Such thorough preparation is accorded in the Western cinema only to ' super ' and 
ever to ' programme ' productions. — Ed. 

2 Nearest Western equivalent — the first ' shot script \ — Ed. 

3 Nearest Western equivalent : final shot script plus ' dope-sheets '. — Ed. 



scenario should, also, contain the chief technical instructions applying to tr 
various stages of the production process. 

In actual practice we come across cases of a scenario being put into pre 
duction before its treatment has been completely worked out. Taking for grante 
that such methods are in principle wholly impermissible, we shall consider onl 
the fully worked out form of scenario treatment, in other words the productio 

Considering the production scenario from the aspect of the camera-man 
participation in its creation, we can distinguish the following forms of camera 
man's treatment : 

ist form : The shot script. 

This system is employed in Western Europe, the equivalent term in German 
being ' Drehbuch '. The shot script gives the details of the technical method 
to be employed on each shot. Problems of compositional construction ar< 
completely ignored. 

znd form : The set-ups (camera viewpoints) are indicated for each shot 
on the basis of plans of the sets supplied by the art director. 

yd form : In this system a compositional scheme is set out for each shot 

\ih form : For each compositional scheme is set out the means of its technica 

We must distinguish two further forms of construction of the productior 
scenario, which have been established in foreign and Soviet cinema practice onl) 
during the past two or three years. 

In Germany the initiator of a novel form of scenario method was the youn£ 
director Frank Wysbar, who is noteworthy for his endeavours to improve the 
process of production, and also for the realistic tendencies observable in his work 
Wysbar does not believe in the various members of the production group working 
in isolation from one another, and insists on the necessity for the collective creative 
activity of all the participants in the production process, basing his method ol 
scenario treatment on this standpoint. 

The main features of his scenario construction are the way in which the 
entire group is brought into collective creation, and his emphasis on the pre- 
paratory period. Shooting begins only when all the essentials of the future film 
are completely in draft. From the primary scenario sketch (or from the literary 
scenario) a kind of intervening form is prepared. This is on scenario lines, but 
more developed. Wysbar regards this form, which he calls ' the film on paper', 
as a new link in the process of production, and is inclined to consider it the basic 
and most important stage of the whole process. 

The ' film on paper ' is a roll of paper on which are entered graphs corre- 
sponding to the various sections of the work of production. The first graph 
entered is the director's solution for each shot. The next is provided by the 
camera-man, and gives the compositional scheme of each shot and the technical 
methods of carrying it out. Then come the graphs of the sound-recordist, of 
the art director, and, finally, photographs of tests. 

The entire paper roll is a skeleton form of film cut in its editing succession 
and with the approximate indication of its length. In the course of unrolling it 
one obtains a thorough idea of the method of making the future film, and can 
consider in advance all the measures necessary to the process. 

The Wysbar system provides an essential link between the production 
scenario and the so-called (daily progress) report sheets, and so is a very valuable 
form of preparation for the film. 



However, the employment of this system in production involves the necessity 
jr an exceptionally long preparatory period. 

A similar system has been introduced in slightly different form by Kuleshov 
I the Soviet Union. By arranging for a long rehearsal period he makes it 
jssible to detail the scenario treatment within certain broad limits. Kuleshov 
jovides not only compositional schemes, but finished sketches of each shot for 
jje camera-man's side of the creative process. 

These sketches are prepared in two forms : (i) A sketch of the linear- 
cmensional treatment, and (2) a sketch of the lighting and tone construction 
(ghting theme). 

We must also mention V. Zhemchuzhni's proposal to have two forms of 
i ing the preparatory scenario treatment, the first form to contain the scheme of 
l-iear- dimensional and lighting composition, the second form containing a descrip- 
tion of the proposed technical methods of effecting the compositional schemes 
Ir each given shot. 


1 5 


Scheme for camera 
set-up and light- 

Composition of the 










Description of 



camera-man's scenario 


i. Type of Camera. 

2. Focal length of lens (75, 50, 35 . . .), and its type. 

3. Light strength. 

4. Filter. 


5. Character. 

6. Footage. 


7. Camera angle (Long-shot, mid-shot, close-up or figure 


8. Pans. 

(a) Horizontal. 

(b) Vertical. 


9. Diaphragms. 

(a) External : 

ins in. 

ins out. 
(b) Internal : 

ins in. 

ins out. 

10. Dissolves. 

11. Number of frames per second (24, 18, 40, 120 . . .). 

12. Amperage. 



Thus in the first form we have compositional schemes covering the whole i 
the treatment of the given section of the film, and in the second we are give 
prescriptions for the technical accomplishment of each given compositional schemi 

The author of the project reduces both the forms to one, assuming that 
is possible during the preparatory period to foresee the exact details of the technic; 
conditions of shooting. However, as we shall see later, they by no means alwa) 
correspond to the conditions actually prevailing in the course of production. 

We give one further example of camera-man's preliminary treatment. Thi 
is the most typical of all the attempts to rationalise the shooting process. 



No. of shot 





Camera viewpoint from below. Camera 
two feet from ground level 




Back lighting. Take with a glass diffuser, 
slightly accelerated. Iris in 

Shot content 

Horizon. Snowy fields. The sun lises 
in morning mist from beyond horizon. 
A caravan of camels is passing 

Colour and tone 

No colour 

Note : Take at 5 a.m., at dawn 

Here we have technical indications for taking the film, expressed in literary 
form. But the compositional scheme, which is basic and the most important 
matter so far as the camera-man is concerned, is lacking. And the absence ol 
a compositional scheme makes the predetermining of technical conditions oi 
shooting in the form given completely pointless. The determination of the time 
of shooting, the set-up and camera viewpoint is possible only on the basis of at 
previously worked out compositional scheme on the one hand, and detailed 
acquaintance with the specific conditions of nature on the spot on the other. 
Thus, such a form of camera-man's preparatory technical treatment in reality 
predetermines nothing and rationalises nothing, and is only an arbitrary kind oi 
* bureaucratic red-tape '. 

So that in the production practice of Soviet and foreign cinema we find the 
following forms of camera-man's treatment : 

1. The organic inclusion of elements of the representational treatment in 
the production scenario (the Wysbar and Kuleshov systems). 

2. A camera-man's scenario worked out independently and parallel with 
the directorial scenario (the Zhemchuzhni proposal). 

3. The absence of any representational treatment in a preliminary worked 
out form, and its replacement by technical instructions, which are of no decisive 
importance in the subsequent shooting process (the form of camera-man's pre- 
paration most frequently met with in production). 

Undoubtedly the most valuable way of preparing the camera-man for making 



1 film is that of deciding upon the compositional scheme of the shot by the process 
)j analysing the author's and director's versions of the scenario, and organically 
inuding this compositional scheme in the production scenario. The compositional 
,ceme then becomes an inseparable element of the entire production project 
I the film as a whole, as it essentially should be of any production scenario in 
I true sense of the term. To work out the camera-man's treatment in a form 
is'.ated from the production scenario is a compromise resolution of the task, and 
ioractice it arises when the director's version of the scenario is not advanced 
Its final production form, in other words, to the form of the production scenario. 
Itnust be especially emphasised that in the absence of a well-thought-out com- 
p itional scheme a preliminary purely technical treatment is in our view com- 
ptely useless. 

Having, on the basis of the previously existing material, established a number 

factors determining the manner in which the camera-man is to participate in 
tl creative process of preparing for and shooting the film, we must now sum- 
rrrise the conditions under which he can in fact fulfil the creative functions 
ptted to him. 

Obviously, first and foremost there must be unity in the creative attitude of 
tl director and the camera-man. Filming groups cannot be chosen by the 
a< ninistration assigning a certain camera-man to a certain picture, irrespective of 
h creative tendencies and gifts. He must actively participate in dealing with 
tl director's version of the scenario during the preparatory period, since only 
iisuch conditions can he get a thorough grasp of the chief scenario-directorial 
p-pose in the treatment characteristic of the given director. If he merely 
a ilyse the completed director's scenario without continual contact with the 
dector during the process of working out the treatment, he will be much less 
Ihly to discover the organic form of the required representational treatment. 

1 he participate in the process of working out the treatment of the director's 
s nario, it will be possible to consider his proposals in advance and include 
I m in the production plan. And in certain cases these proposals may have a 
d:isive influence upon the directorial treatment of the film. 

When the director has completed his working out of the scenario, the camera- 
nn should be allowed a period of working on the film together with the art 
dector. The sketches for costumes and sets are produced during this period, 1 
ai in addition he works out compositional schemes for the various objects to 
b filmed, in conjunction with the art director. 

We attach particular importance to the question of working in conjunction 
v:h the art director. A specific peculiarity of the architectural construction of 
s s for studio work is that each set is planned for a definite camera set-up, taking 
i o calculation the definite angle of vision of the lens. Cases have been known 
qthe art director setting to work to construct studio sets without reaching pre- 
1 linary agreement with the camera-man. As the result the finished set has 
f)ved to be of less value than it should have been, because of the fact that the 

1 :uliarities of the optical transmission of the lens used have not been taken into 

Now we must consider the various stages of the process of carrying out the 
cnera-man's treatment in the form predetermined by the particular scheme 

2 3pted. 

Jointly with the director the camera-man works out the director's version 

1 In Western practice art director (sets) and dress designer are commonly (and illogic- 
£ r) separate persons who scarcely collaborate. — Ed. 



of the scenario. Parallel with the directorial distribution into shots and hi 
planning of the mise en scene, the camera-man decides what are the main ele 
ments necessary to the representational treatment of the given shot. By th 
time he has finished working out the director's scenario he should finally hav 
elucidated the following : 

The chief elements governing his general standpoint in the representation* 
treatment of the given film (the ' literary ' or stylistic characterisation). 

His standpoint in relation to the representational characterisation of thj 
various persons in the film. 

His chief technical requirements in regard to the decorative formulation c 
the set, costumes and make-up, and finally, the technical requirements india 
pensable to drawing up estimates for the picture. 

The next stage of the process consists in the detailed formulation of th 
production scenario to be used in producing the picture. The elements of th; 
camera-man's treatment included in the production scenario are the following' 

For each object in the film, taking the compositional scheme of the longi 
shot as his basis, the camera-man works out in editing form the compositions 
schemes of all the main shots that are of decisive importance in the editing com 
position. We may also include editorial cut-ins of secondary importance am 
shots which do not involve any special composition in advance. Taking th 
normal length of a sound film at 7,200 feet and the average length of an editin; 
piece for a sound film at 15 feet, we get about 480 shots, of which some 300 ma" 
require preliminary compositional treatment. On the average, the creation o; 
compositional schemes for this number of shots, with the camera-man and arj 
director working together, occupies not more than from ten to fifteen days. Thi 
compositional schemes thus worked out are then included in the productioi 
scenario as illustrative material to each directorial shot. Each scheme is giveii 
in fairly simplified form, without any indication of details. In the linear-dimen 
sional scheme only the situation of the object in the frame space is usually given 
Here the planning of the objects along one or another diagonal, the height of th 
horizon in the frame, the foreshortening, etc., are provided for. 

For the tonal scheme, which is built up after the scheme of linear-dimen 
sional composition has been determined, a more complex sketch is provided 
While preserving the same distribution of objects as in the first scheme, the tona 
scheme also gives the distribution of the tonal spots. With this scheme of tonai 
composition to guide him the camera-man can later judge of the type of negative 
required in filming the given object, the filter to use, and the contrast of imagi; 

In Fig. 63 (a-e) are given schemes of compositional treatment for th< 
film " Chapayev " (directors, the Vasilievs ; camera-man, Sigayev). 

It is not always necessary to produce a worked-out lighting scheme for eacl 
separate shot, as the lighting scheme of the long-shot usually governs that of al 
the editing links in the given scene. If, however, these provide special lighting 
tasks, then of course supplementary schemes can be worked out and included ii 
the production scenario. 

The production scenario also includes all the material obtained in making 
tests. This material is of guidance mainly on the questions of actors' make-uj 
and costumes. 

In regard to exterior shots the camera-man provides material for the pro 
duction scenario only after he has examined the location of the exterior sho 
jointly with the director. 



Fig. 63. — Compositional sketches 
for the film " Chapayev ". 

A general list of auxiliary technical attachments and lighting apparatus 
lould be attached to the production scenario. The list of lighting apparatus is 
•awn up for the purpose of guidance, and takes as its starting-point the lighting 
|heme for the long-shots based on the models of the sets. The lighting list 
lust be worked out in detail before each object is shot. 

The production scenario also includes the camera-man's general technical 
oservations on the shooting of individual objects. The technical treatments of 
parate shots are produced only after the camera-man has informed himself in 
itail on the conditions of shooting in the given exterior or on the actual set. 

If the question of composite photographing 1 arises in the course of work 
1 the film, the production scenario should include an exact plan for carrying out 
ie given composite shot, with all the calculations, including scale, etc. 

Such are the camera-man's main requirements in the course of working out 
ie production scenario. We have deliberately omitted the question of working 
it the technical questions in detail for each separate shot, as it is not possible 
\ include material of this kind in the production scenario. The compositional 
;heme always serves as an exhaustive criterion of the correctness of the camera- 
man's conception of his representational tasks. As for the technical methods of 
1 alising the given compositional scheme, in the great majority of cases this task 
in be resolved only after detailed acquaintance with the immediate conditions 
f; shooting on the spot. This way of stating the case, however, by no means 
aplies that it is impossible to work out the technical treatment of the com- 
ositional scheme in a preliminary form. On the contrary, if the shooting pro- 
>ss is to be carried out rationally a preliminary technical treatment must be 
rawn up. But the conditions in which it has to be put into effect dictate a 
? mewhat different form of scenario fixation from that required in order to put 
ie production scenario into effect. We must consider this question in more 

The technical methods of carrying out the compositional schemes of a shot 
volve decision on the following technical factors : 

1 Super-imposition, lap dissolve (mix), etc. — Ed. 


1. The choice of lens according to the character of the sketch, the lightin 
strength and focal length. 

2. Determination of the position of the camera whe i shooting (the set-up). 

3. Auxiliary optical attachments (supplementary lenses, gauzes, etc.). 

4. The filter and its selective absorption. 

5. The scheme of distribution of lighting apparatus or the distribution ( 
the lighting accessories in exterior shots. 

6., Determination of the technical method of fixing each shot. 

7. Preliminary estimate of exposure time, etc. 

8. Determination of the speed of shooting. 

9. Special auxiliary attachments, etc. 

Obviously, here we have to deal with a number of definite technical detail 
which must in some way be taken into consideration in advance. The inclusio 
of all such instructions in the production scenario is technically quite impossibli 
and for that matter is unnecessary. In the same way it would be stupid to deman 
that the art director should include in the production scenario all his exact instruc 
tions and estimates for the construction of the sets. The director is usuall 
content to confirm the model of the set, leaving the art director to solve th 
technical problems. Yet, independently of the production scenario, a preliminar 
technical treatment is of great importance for the camera-man, both in order t 
enable him to prepare for the shooting process, and also so that he can accumulat 
his technical experience in a permanent form. Consequently, a separate forr 
of setting out should be adopted for the technical treatment, and we may pre 
visionally call this form the ' camera-man's diary '. 

It must be emphasised that the establishment of useful organisational form 
of preliminary treatment of the creative task must not be regarded as an attemp 
to restrict the camera-man's freedom in the shooting process. So far as he i 
concerned the compositional scheme is only a starting-point and guiding facte 
in the construction of the shot. He entirely retains his right during the shootin 
process to modify the compositional scheme adopted in any scene in order t 
bring it into correspondence with the actual conditions of shooting and the no 
tasks that arise during shooting in consequence. 

At the same time, the working out of compositional schemes during th 
preparatory period undoubtedly inspires the camera-man, and ensures that th 
compositional construction of the shots has been given adequate thought befor 



When the linear-dimensional and the tonal compositions have been com- 
letely worked out, the camera-man's part in preparing the production scenario 
i virtually finished. As we have said, the technical aspect of the compositional 
:hemes should not be included in the production scenario, but should be drawn 
p as a separate project, in the form of the ' camera-man's diary \ 

In our opinion this ' diary ' should consist of a series of tables giving the 
ichnical explanation of the most complicated of the compositional schemes, 
)gether with exact instructions as to the technical methods by which they are 
) be carried out. 

The need for the ' camera-man's diary ' arises from a series of technical 
ifriculties. To begin with we must remark that so far cinematographic technique 
as no satisfactory system of generally accepted recording of technical methods. 
Vhen the camera-man hands in his request for lighting apparatus and auxiliary 
ttachments to the corresponding department he usually employs his own primi- 
ve symbols, and certainly not those of any single, generally accepted system. 

In all other spheres of technique there is a single system of graphic symbols 
>r use in plans, diagrams, etc. And in view of the technical complexity of the 
looting process, we consider that a similar single system is very timely and 
ecessary in the sphere of the camera-man's technique. 

In order to indicate technical methods the directorial scenario customarily 
"sorts to a standard literary description, such as ' slow lap dissolve ', ' wipe down- 
wards ', ' fade-in ', ' fade-out ', and so on. Taking for granted that the production 
:enario should contain not only the director's scenario treatment, but that of 
;ie camera-man, sound-recordist, music composer, art director and other par- 
cipants in the process of film making, we must ensure that any form of technical 
/mbol should be as simple as possible. Otherwise the production scenario will 
e overloaded with all kinds of literary annotations, which will make it impossibly 
ifficult to decipher during the filming process. Consequently, we propose a 
rovisional graphic system to convey the camera-man's technical methods. 

In Fig. 64 we give simple symbols, founded on the principle of direct graphic 
milarity with the functional aspect of each respective technical method. Only 
lementary methods not involving special preliminary estimates are included. 

1. Fade-out. 

2. Fade-in (the reverse process). 

3. Lap dissolve or Mix (combination of the two previous processes). 

4. Pan in horizontal and vertical directions. 

5. Iris diaphragm. 









A 1 WIPES ^ 


-n— It 




Fig. 64. — Proposed symbols for technical methods. 

6. Multiple exposure (super-imposition). 

7. Wipes of all kinds (along the frame horizontals, frame verticals, fn 

diagonals, and circular). 

Fig. 65 is a table of abstract symbols for lighting equipment. Equipme 
for lighting from above, usually hung four to a frame, is indicated by a syml 
of simple graphic similarity. Standing equipment similar in construction wit 
reflectors of 1,000 mm., 750 mm., 600 mm., 330 mm. and 250 mm. is representee 
by a constant symbol, with the sole difference that the diameter of the reflecto 
is indicated separately by its first figure, unless of 1,000 mm. when we give th 
first two figures. Lens attachments, arcs, aggregates, and equipment for speck 
lighting are given separate symbols. 

In the process of shooting the various personages the camera-man make 
notes of the actual lighting schemes used ; with the aid of these he can at an; 
time restore the system of lighting he has adopted. It is essential for him t< 
preserve such compositional schemes, for it frequently happens that certain shot 
with certain actors are taken at the beginning of the production, and those imme 
diately following are left until the end. If he has no memory or note of th 
lighting scheme utilised during the filming of the first shots, he has to work i 
out again during the actual process of shooting, as otherwise shots lit differenth 
may not fit together well in editing. In Fig. 66 we give examples of the simples 
method of preparing lighting charts for close-ups. 

In Fig. 67 we give a table from the ' camera-man's diary ' ; this should b<, 
printed in the form of a standard blank to be filled in. On the left side of the 
table he briefly notes the number of the shot and its content according to th< 
production scenario. Underneath, he makes his notes on the specific features 
the given object (character of the lighting, day or night, tone, etc.). In the top 
right-hand corner is given the compositional scheme. The setting of the lighting 




iooo mm. | 10 1 






750 mm. § 7 § 


600 mm. 1 1 





500 mm. W _ ^ 

1 5 1 


330 mm. | 5 1 

<* ^ 

250 mm. fol 



9 D 

V i 

SPOT ^^1+ 

arc m J» m 











^ , 

Fig. 65. — Proposed symbols for 
lighting apparatus. 

Fig. 66.— Chart of 

lighting scheme for 

tuipment and the camera set-up is marked down on a specially scaled graph. 
1 the same time the technical conditions of shooting are approximately deter- 
1 ned, and the laboratory treatment of the exposed negative noted down. In 
i lower part of the table is a schedule of the lighting equipment and a general 
( imate of the amperage. 

Tables of this kind should be filled in exclusively for long-shots of each object. 
r lere is no necessity for such tables when taking mid-shots or close-ups, since 
t s character of the lighting of the appropriate long-shot has provided the camera- 
1 m with a basis. Estimating that in a film of normal length (7,200 feet) there 




will not be more than twenty to thirty long-shots, it should not be difficult f 
the camera-man to fill in such tables. Copies are handed to the lighting depar 
ment, and the electricians can carry out the positioning of the lighting equipme 
exactly, as the tables provide them with a general outline of the composition 
scheme of the shot. 

Now to deal with the problem of noting down more complex technic 
methods. If the camera-man has to take a shot involving a pan he is frequent 
faced with the necessity of making a preliminary estimate of the length of tl 
pan. Without such an estimate it is extremely difficult to determine ocular 
the rate of movement of the panorama head. And the difficulty is increase 
when the director requires the pan to occupy an exact length in the editing 
The panning of the camera is achieved either by turning the correspondii 
handles (one for horizontal and one for vertical pan) on the head of the came 
tripod, or by shifting the camera by hand with the aid of a special lever provide 
on tripods of certain types. In the first case the result is a slow, flowing pa 
in the second a swift, abrupt pan. When reckoning the speed of the pan we tal 
into account the angle formed by the direction of the chief optical axis of tl 
lens before and after the beginning of the pan, and the magnitude of the effectr 
angle of vision of the lens used, in the plane in which the pan has been carri( 
out. On these magnitudes will depend the footage of the pan shot, and also tl 
degree of lack of definition of the image in the shot due to the swift moveme: 
of the pan. Usually the mechanism of the present-day tripod is constructed 
shift the optical axis of the lens through an angle of one degree for every turn 
the panning handle. It is difficult to turn the panning handle smoothly ar 
steadily at a speed greater than two to three turns per second, and so in practii 
the speed does not exceed this rate. Turning the handle at two to three tun 
per second, we shift the optical axis of the lens at a steady angle speed of thn 
degrees per second. And this figure provides us with a basis for estimating tl 
length of film required for shooting the given pan. 

Let us suppose we are taking a pan through an angle of ninety degree 
Dividing ninety by three, we get the time-length of the pan, i.e. thirty second 
In shooting sound film at a speed of twenty-four frames per second, eightee 
inches pass through the camera in one second. So that in the thirty secon< 
occupied to take the pan through an angle of ninety degrees forty-five feet of fil 
pass through the camera, and the scenario should provide for this. 

We will analyse another complex technical method of shooting which al; 
requires preliminary estimates and noting down in chart form. In order to avo 
errors the estimate of a complex shot including lap dissolves and fades shou 
be made not only by noting down the number of handle-turns, but also withtl 
charting of a diagram which at any moment will render it possible to see at 
glance which stages are already shot and which remain to be shot. 

We suggest a simple and convenient system of charting the processes of sue 
a composite shot, based on the principle of co-ordinate construction. This sy 
tern saves both the camera-man and his assistant the necessity of making ar 
supplementary note during the actual shooting process. 

In Fig. 68 we give a graph of notes for shooting processes involving dissolve 
or transitions to exposure magnitudes other than the magnitude of exposui 
adopted at the beginning of the shot. 

Along the horizontal axis of the system of co-ordinates are placed the numer 
cal turns of the camera handle. Along the vertical axis are given the magnitude 
corresponding to the aperture of the angle of the shutter in degrees. 























Vj " 



_J q 



1 ^ 


» i 


7 s 






■ r 





« ^\ 


:u% r 







1 ., 






k - 





I <2 


• ? » . •} 





O w 




LENS f. 








500 mm. 
330 mm. 
250 mm. 





Fig. 67. — Page from ' camera-man's diary 

Suppose we have to carry out a composite shot task of the following kind. 
j,ter four turns of the handle taking a normal shot we have to make a lap dis- 
i ve, next the shot proceeds normally for four turns, then a partial fade-out is 
I ide for one turn ; the shot continues with an angle of aperture of the shutter 
'<6z° for three turns, then the aperture is opened to the maximum for two turns, 
id lastly the shot proceeds normally. In our chart, the straight section, parallel 
t the horizontal axis, represents the course of the normal shot during the first 



2 3 4 S 6 7 8 9 10 II 12 13 >4 IS )(> 17 18 19 20 

Fig. 68. — Chart of dissolve an 

four turns of the handle. From the fourth to the tenth turn, beginning fro 
point a, the straight line changes its course and goes sharply downward, i.e. th<> 
is a fade-out. At the tenth turn of the handle the dimension of the angle f 
opening of the shutter aperture is obviously equal to nil. Then the handle; 
turned in the opposite direction from the tenth to the fourth turn, with a closl 
shutter. From point b to point c the straight section again takes a direct! 
parallel to the horizontal axis of the system of co-ordinates. The shot procees 
normally from the tenth to the fourteenth turn of the handle. At point c U 
straight line drops to point d, which corresponds to a closing of the shutter i 
62 during one turn of the handle. From point d to point e, during three tun, 
the shot proceeds with the shutter open to 62 . From point e to point/, duri^ 
three turns the shutter is opened back to full, and then the shot proceeds no 
mally. Counting along the horizontal axis the number of turns from the fit 
to the final stage of the entire process, we get twenty turns, which, according > 
the calculation given above, corresponds to about seven feet. 

In our chart we have set out along the vertical axis the designation of t : 
shutter aperture angles according to the seven degrees of the " Debrie " systei. 
Obviously, the construction of a chart for any other system presents no sped 
difficulties. And in the shooting process the camera-man needs only to note eai 
stage on the chart as it is made, in order to determine beyond possibility of err 
what are the successive operations in the shot, and with what shutter openiv 
they have to be made. Supposing that at point d of our chart we have ma; 
fourteen turns of the handle and the shutter angle is 62 . By comparing the: 
details with the figures of the footage counter and the actual position of t| 
shutter-opening at that moment, the camera-man can at once determine whi 
part of the shot has been taken, and whether any stage of fade-out or shutte 
opening has been missed. The best way is to mark out the chart on paper squan 
in millimetres, preparing a standard blank complete with co-ordinating axes ai 

Finally, we have to consider one other variety of shot, which in practice 
is impossible to make at all without preliminary calculation. This covers all tl 
forms of composite shots involving a simple perspective combination of a mod 
and part of the full-scale set. 

The method of combining a model with the full-sized set was first applied 
Germany by the art director Lotka, who set up a miniature model of the upper pa 



< a set directly in front of the camera lens, at a distance of three to four feet. The 
]*ver part of the set was built up in a corresponding position at a greater distance 
i full scale, and the action with the actors took place against the background of 
lis part of the set. This method of combined shot is very simple to achieve 
t:hnically, but the preparation of the model demands absolutely exact pre- 
liinary calculations, which the camera-man should make and hand to the art 

In constructing a set to its natural scale the camera set-up, situated at a 
jeviously known distance from the set, is taken into account. In that case, 
ring a lens with a definite focal length, only one definite point can be chosen 
;>ng the line of the lens' optical axis at which the model can be set up. If the 
i : Ddel is so sized that it must be set up at a distance of ten feet from the camera, 
len there can be no shifting of the model during the shooting process, otherwise 
either hides part of the natural-size set, or comes out too small. Consequently 
e calculations governing the size of the model must be absolutely exact, and an 
<tot of three or four inches only will result in failure to achieve a perspective 
mbination of the model and the full-size background set. 

At the present time the method of simple perspective combination with a 
ilodel is used a great deal, not only abroad, but in Soviet cinematography. Con- 
iquently, special attention must be given in the scenario to preliminary calcu- 
jfcions of model position. 

(Fig. 69 gives an example of a preliminary calculation for such a model to 
used in perspective combination. 
Supposing that part of a set sixty-five feet long is built up in its natural size at a 





Fig. 69. — Diagram for com- 
bined trick model shot. 



distance 01 ioo feet from the set-up. The shot is taken with a lens of focal lengt 
35 mm. This lens will have an effective angle of vision of 38 , calculated alon 
the frame horizontals. 

Marking out the extreme limits of the effective angle of vision so that froi 
the chosen set-up they completely embrace the natural section of the set, we g» 
the dimension of our models for any point along the line of the lens' main optic 

The closer the model is brought to the set-up, the smaller will be its line; 
dimensions. On the millimetre-squared paper we can calculate the linear dimer 
sions of the model to within three or four inches. Thus we get the necessai 
dimensions — the breadth of the model and its distance from the set-up. 

We make a similar calculation for a profile-plan of the entire constructio! 
In this case the effective angle of vision, reckoned for the verticals of the fram» 
will be equal to 29 . From this calculation we get the linear dimensions of tr. 
height of the model. After informing the art director of these dimensions tr 
camera-man has only to mark out on his chart the point at which the model h< 
to be set up in front of the camera. With such preliminary calculation the corr 
bination is achieved very simply, and the height at which the model is to b 
suspended on its supports can also be determined beforehand. 

Among special calculations we must also include the determination of th 
size of representation of the object in the shot, which is required in many forrr 
of short-timed exposure of the shot. It is necessary to introduce this calculation 
based on well-known formulae, into the camera-man's scenario treatment. 

The foregoing comprise certain general considerations concerning the metho 
of planning the camera-man's scenario treatment. Experience of recent yeai 
has shown that the existence of a special camera-man's scenario, worked 01 
parallel with the director's and in contradistinction from his, is not desirable 
Undoubtedly it is a sound principle to have only a single production scenarit 
which should also be the general project for the film being made, and usable b 
everyone. The camera-man can make his separate notes. 




"|N order to elucidate the chief tendencies of development of the camera- 
man's art in the period of the birth of cinema, we must briefly deal with 
the history of photography, for it is here that the first creative impulses of 

cinema camera-man have their beginning. 

From the very first days of photography there were two main tendencies in 
it development. On the one hand it was accorded universal recognition as a 
rrans of scientific investigation, of exact documentation of the object photo- 
g phed. At the same time, photography was given its rightful, and honourable 
pjce among the other previously existing representational arts as a new method 
s: artistic representation. 

The varied possibilities of photography were realised from the very earliest 
j s of its existence. Gay Lussac, who on July joth i8jg expressed his opinion 
I Daguerre's invention, thus defined photography's future role. 

Daguerre's method will undoubtedly have extensive application ; artists will use it 
fc the manifestation of forms, designers as a perfect pattern for perspective and for studying 
tr distribution of light and shade, natural scientists for study of the various kinds of animals 
u plants and their construction. 

In its further development photography brilliantly confirmed Lussac 's 
e: lectations. There is hardly a sphere of natural science in which it does not 
p y a considerable part as a means of scientific investigation. Wherever photo- 
g phy has fulfilled the exact and definite tasks of scientific investigation and 
d :umentalisation, it has invariably earned high commendation as a perfect 
tr thod of representation. 

The position is a little different in regard to the development of photography 
a: i specific form of representational art. The pioneer of photography, Daguerre, 
Wi a painter by profession. Working in the studio of the decorator Degotti, as 
es'ly as 1822, he tried to find a more perfect method of representation than that 
Portrait painting. When he discovered a technique of photography he at once 
a >lied it as a means of artistic reproduction of a portrait, and his first work in 
Is direction obtained general recognition as genuine examples of art. After 
E guerre, the English artist, David Octavius Hill, in 1843-5 created a number 
photographic portraits which aroused universal admiration by their artistic and 
nlistic qualities. 



Fig. 70. — Anonymous 
photograph taken in 
the 'fifties. 

With the aid of photography, both Daguerre and Hill created artistic work; 
because both of them were genuine artists, creatively applying the new techniqu 
of representation. The works of these first masters of photography astonish 1 
first and foremost by their clear expression of character, by their extreme endeavou 
to perceive the individual lines essential to the given object. The photographi 
portraits produced by both Daguerre and Hill are typical for the extraordinar 
profundity of their work on the characteristics of the subject portrayed. 

The work of the pioneers of artistic photography was realistic, but at th 
same time it was by no means a simple passive reflection of the object. Mechanic 
reproduction, the technicalism of so-called ' documentary record ' photograph 
had no place in it. The creative elements predominated over the bare techniqu 
brought into the service of the artistic tasks, and this was the main reason fc 
the success of the first artists in photography. It is possible that, paradoxical a 
it may seem, this was conduced to by the imperfection of the lens with whicl 
Daguerre and Hill worked. The limitations of the visual angle of the lens an< 
the lack of definition in the extreme limits of the image demanded a very exac 
planning of the object, an exact choice of the visible field of vision. And thi 
necessitated thoughtful attention to the represented object, and selection of th< 
most characteristic, most essential aspects on which attention had to be con 

In the years of emergence of artistic photography, portrait photography wa 
accepted as an art on the same level as painting. In this period photographi 
productions were hard to come by and were of considerable value. 



But during the second half of the nineteenth century there were considerable 
c inges in the development of artistic photography. 

The general extension of photography arising out of technical progress, and 
h particular the development of a photo-optical industry, transformed it into a 
c ;ap and accessible means of representation. The varied demands made on it 
b science, technical investigation and amateur photographers led first and fore- 
list to the isolation of applied photography, which now developed along separate 
liss. But artistic photography also was subjected to internal differentiations. 
1 e photographic illustration appeared, meeting the needs of the illustrated press 
■ i swiftly eliminating the sketch or drawing. There was a development of pro- 
f sional portrait photography, which, to please the bourgeois citizen, created the 
be style of the so-called ' salon ' photographs and family portrait groups. 
I lally, there was an extensive development of amateur photography, embracing 
uusually varied sections of the population. 

Thus by the end of the nineteenth century photography was developing the 
flowing divisions : 

First : Applied photography, arising out of the needs of science and technique. 

Second : Photographic illustration (or photo-reporting) at this time serving 
r inly the illustrated gutter press. 

third : So-called professional ' salon ' photography, creating chiefly photo- 
nhic portraits. 

Fourth : Amateur photography, within which also there were several ten- 
c icies. 

The positive aspects of the development of wholesale scale photography con- 
sted in .the accessibility and cheapness of the photograph as a means of multi- 
r. ed information, as a representational means, and, finally, as a means of popular- 

Fig. 71. — Portrait taken by Hill, 1843-45. 

Fig. 72. — Example of nineteenth century 
professional ' salon ' photograph. 



ising art productions. The positive value and exceptional possibilities of applil 
scientific and technical photography need no demonstrating. 

The positive aspects of the wholesale distribution of photography are | 
obvious that it would be a waste of time stopping to consider them. But i 
must consider certain results of a negative kind, which are directly connect I 
with our further conclusions. 

' Professional ' photography always sought the greatest and most exact i 
semblance to the originals. The professional photographer took no trouble j 
reveal the characteristic peculiarities of the object photographed in artistic fori 
and endeavoured only to obtain a mechanical reproduction of the original, | 
make a copy void of any independent creative content, void of thought, whi 
only the artist, creatively perceiving reality, can introduce. It was evident 
these negative features of professional photography that Hippolyte Taine had 
mind when, in his lectures on " The Philosophy of Art ", he spoke on the incor 
patibility of painting and photography as " equal " representational arts. 

Photography is an art which, with the aid of lines and shadows in one plane, reproduc 
the outlines and forms of an object exactly and without error. Undoubtedly photograp' 
is a serviceable aid to painting ; sometimes it has artistic application in the hands of expei 
enced and capable persons, but none the less it does not think of placing itself on the sar 
level as painting. 

Professional photography was mechanically ' exact ' and ' without error 
But it was these very features that deprived it of its picturesque quality the chi 
and most valuable quality that Daguerre and Hill portrayed. 

As early as the 'sixties of last century professional portrait photography beg; 
to oust portrait painting, which became the property only of the most secu 
classes. The cheapness of the photographic portrait and the possibility of tl 
wholesale copying of photographs deprived the average portrait painter, who h; 
worked for the urban citizen, of a large ' market '. This was the basis of tl 
antagonism that developed between portrait painting and photography. Mar 
accusations were made against photography, all of them in the last resort amountir 
to a denial that photography was an art. But we must remark that undoubted 
there was formal reason for such an attitude, for at that time the artistic lev 
of the professional photographer was below all criticism. Based on the currer 
tastes of the middle-class citizen, ' salon ' photography was the very reverse ( 
artistic. Yet this was no reason for denying its role as a representational art i 
general, for the creative possibilities of artistic photography had been clear] 
demonstrated by Daguerre and Hill (Figs. 70, 71, 72). 

The real reasons for the denial that photography is an art were differen 
We shall deal with them later on. For the moment we note that, living miserabl 
in the vestibules of art, photography borrowed from it the naturalism ruling i 
the days of its own birth, and that in the most naive, vulgar and insipid forn 
While in ' salon ' photography this naturalism was hidden beneath an extern; 
abstract ' beauty ' of subject and detail, in photo-reporting and amateur photog 
raphy it was revealed in all its naked ugliness. The development of photographi 
technique, the improvement of the lens, also drove it in the direction of insipi 
naturalism. The anastigmatic lens with its exceptionally clear optical transmissio: 
and broad angle of vision came into use. A photograph taken with such a leni 
completely answered the needs of applied photography, but at the same tim 
this lens became a dangerous instrument in the hands of the unqualified pres 
and amateur photographer. The possibilities of the wide-angled anastigmati 
lens encouraged them to delight in the definition of detail, and in the extraordin 



rily broad extent of the field of vision. In the hands of a man with no artistic 
ilture or definite creative attitude the lens became a means of achieving simple 
reproduction ' representation of fortuitous subjects, without any attempt at 
eliberate selection of the expressive elements. 

Hence arose the flooding of the illustrated journals with haphazard photo- 
raphs, void of artistic value, frequently useless even as a simple means of in- 
>rmation. Photography lost one of its most valuable qualities — its artistic 
icturesqueness. The wholesale photo, which was merely a mechanical reflection, 
reproduction of a fortuitous subject, lost all right to be called an artistic pro- 
uction. The professional portraits and ' family groups ', the postcard views, 

Iie low-standard newspaper photographs, the ' etudes ' verging on pornography, 
le famous ' Paris genre ' : all these together determined the negative character- 
tics of photography. In this elemental flood of trash and representational 
npotence, those few photographer artists who for several decades had carried on 
le struggle for the right of genuinely artistic photography to be called an art 
|ere submerged. For that matter, the struggle is still going on even to-day. 1 

Photography became a synonym for a non-artistic reproduction of reality. 
Jauntier, one of the greatest caricaturists of the middle of the nineteenth century, 
lade a bitter and evil caricature of the photographer Nadar, who in the 'sixties 
as the first to take a camera up in a balloon. " Nadar raising photography to 
high art " was the sarcastic caption which Daumier put under his sketch 
7 ig. 73). But meantime, Nadar 's aerial photographs acquired the significance 
I genuine artistic productions, despite the fact that he had originally intended 
;iem only for ' land measurement and strategy '. 

In his Notes on ^Esthetics Franz Mehring quotes the lines of Anzengruber, 
commonplace, yet overflowing with true artistic spirit," which speak of the 
lack of vitality of the photographic box.' 

Der soil sich nicht mit Kunst befassen, 
Der die Natur wie Jeder sieht, 
Er schleppt 'nen Photographenkasten, 
Der nur die Schulter, schief ihm zieht ; 
Wem irgend grosses ist gelungen, 
Der hat sich's selber abgerungen. 
Ob zart und mild, ob stark und wild ! 
Hast du nur deinem Werke eben 
Aus eignem Ich was zugegeben, 
So giebt's ein Bild ! 2 

At the first congress of the " Russian Artists and Amateurs of Art ", held in 
^94, the right of photography to call itself an art was denied with exceptional 

I Instantaneous photography does not represent nature, it distorts it [said professor 

Photography may serve as a simple substitute, but not as an independent means of 
tistic creation [declared Shaikevitch] . 

1 The reader is recommended to read the highly interesting works by L. Mezheritcher, 
ight Influences in Photography and The Art of the Present-day (photo annuals for 1929 
id 1930), from which we have taken part of our documental material. — N. 

2 Let him not associate himself with art who sees nature like anyone else. He simply 
ills out his photographic box, which only bows his shoulders. The man who has suc- 
eded in creating something great has wrested it out of himself, whether it is soft and 
nder or strong and savage ! If only you have conferred on your creation something of 
>ur own ego, you have made a picture ! 




Fig. 73. — Caricature I 

Daumier of the Photograph, 

Nadar : " Nadar raising phot 

graphy to a high art." 

All photography of beast or man represents a series of complicated caricatures [add 

N. N. Karazin]. 1 

So photography was not an art. It was dead, lifeless, and it distorted reali . 

In the best case it was accused of passive ' reproductionalism ', in the worst t 

was declared dangerous, but bearable to the extent that it satisfied the aesthe: 

demands of the ' crowd '. 

And here we find the true explanation of the negative attitude to photograph 
adopted in bourgeois aesthetics. It hands over this ' cheap ' art to the crov, 
and then treats it as not genuine art. Typical bourgeois hypocrisy this, whii 
accuses the people of lack of culture, and with all its powers, including ideolo^, 
— the gutter press and gutter art — deliberately keeps that people from cultu . 
Whereas true art exists only for the select few of the ruling class. 

The bourgeois aesthetics of the period marking the close of industrial capit- 
ism regarded photography inimically, as a mechanical art, just as it had machine; 
and industry. In modern society art is a commodity. It is valued for its rarf 
and uniqueness. 

Commodity fetishism and its way of thinking regards only the hand-mac, 
craft-produced, unique and unrepeatable production as art. 

During the epoch of imperialism the bourgeoisie's attitude to the machi' 
and to industrialism changed considerably, owing to a number of reasons whii 
we need not consider here. The attempt was made to create a new style on t; 
basis of machine technique, an ' aesthetics of the machine ', of technical co- 

1 Proceedings of the First Congress of Russian Artists and Amateurs of Art, 1894, Moscc, 
1900, pp. 15, 42, 43. 



auction. And photography also achieved partial recognition as an art. Attempts 
ere made to recreate artistic photography on new principles. Along this road 
reat, yet purely formalistic, intrinsically emasculated achievements stand to the 
-edit of individual artistic photographers of post-war years. (Moholy-Nagy, 
Ian-Ray and others.) This attempt to create a new art was unsuccessful, and 
>r the same reasons as those which led to the failure of attempts to create a new 
lachine-technique style : the complete bankruptcy of all bourgeois culture and 
leology, which during the period of disintegration of the capitalist system has 
ot itself into a blind alley. In the ' modern ' style, and even more in construc- 
vism, the artist, instead of creating a new organic style, occupies himself with 
ylising machinery, with the self-sufficing aesthetics of play with new materials. 

' Engine-ism ' and ' machine-ism ' are means of emasculating the ideological 
Dntent of art, of reducing it to an empty trickery and ' divertissement ' and 
xasionally to meaningless irrationalism, to idealist abstractionism, to the ' mas- 
:ry of the material ' and so on. In such conditions, naturally nothing significant, 
o serious and valuable art has been able to emerge from the attempts to create 
i artistic photography. 

To what extent photography's miserable lot is not inevitable, to what extent 
tiotographic technique provides every possibility of constructing a genuine art 
i its basis is shown by the practice of Soviet photography. Photography has 
nly to be transferred to the fruitful soil of art of a rising socialist society, it has 
nly to be given a social trend, and it is at once transformed into genuine art. 
nd here the distinction between photo-reporting and so-called artistic pho- 
>graphy is lost, for in such conditions both of them are justified in claiming the 
tie of genuine art. 

Is photography an art ? [asks a writer in the Express Poranny, reviewing an exhibition 
' Soviet photo-reporting in Warsaw]. Let those who have even a grain of doubt on the 
lestion visit the exhibition of Soviet photography. . . . Every one of the photographers 
»ntributing to the exhibition is an artist, if only in the sense that he is in love with the 
orld, that he always looks at it with the wondering gaze of the eternal discoverer of new 
uths, seeing it always for the first time. Looking at the world through his eyes, in other 
ords through the lens of his camera, we also see this world for the first time. . . . The 
ost faithful expressers of the now officially proclaimed socialist realism in Soviet art, 
hich is primarily a thematic trend, are undoubtedly the photo-reporter artists. 

Here is another report which emphasises the striking difference between 
( Dviet photo-art and the degenerate, aestheticising Western ' artistic ' photography. 

In the works of the Soviet photographers [writes a member of the Union of Polish 
iiotographers, the engineer Dederko], we do not see scattered collars, ash-trays with cigar 
id cigarette ends, or scraps of paper, but we see factory chimneys, machines, tractors, 
ientific expeditions, all the world, incommensurably more important than the glass of 
sltzer water of the super- refined people of Western Europe. The portraits are also 
jstinguished from those we are accustomed to seeing. The expression is strong, the 
|solute gaze reveals people firm, simple, and markedly different from us. ... A char- 
teristic feature of the exhibition is joy — tremendous, unrestrainable, sometimes simply 
^intelligible to us people of the West. 1 

The foregoing extracts call for no comment. At this stage we end our brief 
xursion into the history of photography and come to the first stages of the birth 
The cinema, which first saw the light in the last decade of the nineteenth 
tttury, was originally not invented as a means of cheap mass amusement. During 
e second half of that century the development of experienced scientific know- 
1 Volsky: " Exhibition of Soviet photographs in Warsaw". Izvestia, June 9, 1934- 



ledge on the basis of the invention of photography and the creation of the requisi 
mechanical attachments called the cinema into existence as an instrument 
scientific investigation, of exactly fixing an object in its dynamic form. Mare 
who in 1882 constructed his famous ' photographic rifle ', was least of all interest* 
in " amusing " anybody, and he made use of the apparatus solely in his studi 
on the flight of birds and insects, his observations providing valuable contributioi 
to the nascent science of aviation. Edison also, who invented a ' kinetoscope 
at first did not intend it for the purpose of mass amusement. The simple el 
amination of one or two historical dates relating to the period of the emergent 
of cinematography will clearly reveal the true trend of these early inventions 
the sphere of the technique of cinematography. 

In 1874 the French astronomer Jansen utilised snapshot photography for ti 
production of several successive pictures of the transit of Venus across the di: 
of the sun. In 1877 Robert Muybridge used a special photographic apparati 
to make a number of snapshots in order to study the movement of animals. 1 
1894 Jenkins constructed his first camera, which he designed to use for studyir 
the flight of birds, the movement of animals, and the muscular activity of hunu 
beings. In 1897 Oscar Messter invented an apparatus giving discontinuov 
movement of film, and made a film of the fall of a cat, with simultaneous fixatic 
of the dial of a chronometer. 

As we see, in its origins the cinema was intended exclusively for scientif 
purposes. Only the subsequent course of development snatched this inventic 
from the laboratory of the scientific investigator and, bringing the cinema inl 
commercial exploitation, threw it into the arms of the owners of fair booths an 
cheap music halls. Regarded as a new kind of amusing trickery, in the earl 
years of its existence the cinema was a mere primitive spectacle. The early fill 
presented any dynamic manifestation in its length of some 150 feet, and tri 
mere fact of showing a moving object on a screen aroused the vigorous applaud 
of the spectators. 1 

It is necessary to remark that the first men to fulfil the functions of camen 
men had very hazy ideas of photographic technique. The first cinematograp 
theatre in the world, the " Cinematographe Lumiere Freres ", was opened 0' 
December 28, 1895, in the cellar of the " Grand Cafe ", in the Boulevard des Capi 
cins in Paris. The content of the first films, or rather of the various editin 
units each taken from one single viewpoint, did not go beyond the simple chronic! 
showing of short visual subjects. " Workers coming out of the factory of tb 
Brothers Lumiere." " Arrival of a train." Such were the contents of thes 

Among the guests invited to the opening of the first cinema theatre was 
famous illusionist and conjuror, Georges Melies. The few scores of feet of prim: 
tive ' living pictures ' shown by the Lumieres made so great an impression 
Melies that he decided to abandon his profession and devote himself to the stud 
of the new ' technical novelty ', the cinematograph. Melies, who at that tim 
held the position of director of the " Theatre of Illusions of Robert-Houdin " i 
Paris, tried to buy their apparatus from the Lumieres, but although he offere 
50,000 francs, they refused to sell. This failure did not check the enterprisin 
conjuror, and a few months later he opened his own kinema-theatre in Pari* 

1 V. Shklovsky has an interesting reminiscence of the first cinematograph perform 
ance in Russia. " Drankov is showing in ' Illusion ' a ribbon portraying a dog in th 
street. . . . Drankov was very proud. As he showed it he shouted : ' Look, look ; il 
hair is moving. I took it myself! ' " V. Shklovsky, Podenshchina, p. 95. 



lowing films with the aid of the Edison ' kinetoscope '. Simultaneously he began 
is own production of film pictures. While studying shooting technique, in his 
lexperience he exposed the same piece of negative twice over, and this error 
d him to the discovery of the possibilities of multiple exposure. After long 
iperimentation he made the first ' trick ' films, entirely built up of multiple 
<posures, with black velvet as a background. In his few feet of pictures we 
rid skilful combinations of shots which had been exposed in sections. Thus, 
|i the film " Members of the Orchestra " there are shots with eighteen short ex- 
osures, a work which, even with present-day technical equipment, calls for a 
imera-man of great experience and intelligence. Later Melies thought of 
icking together sections of negative, which at that time never exceded fifty feet 
1 length. So that he essentially deserves the honour of the ' discovery ' of 
resent-day editing technique (Figs. 75-76). 

The success of Melies' first films and the fame he acquired stimulated an 
nglishman named Robert Paul to occupy himself with experiments in the sphere 
w cinematography. At first Paul thought of asking Melies for help, since, not 
aving even an elementary conception of a cinematograph film, he ascribed the 
uality of those early pictures entirely to the former conjuror's talent and ability. 
Towever, after making experimental films, he came to the conclusion that in the 
reation of cinematographic ' tricks ' of this kind the main part was played not 
p much by the talent of the camera-man as by the technical resources which 
'e had at his disposition. In 1896 Paul set up his own workshop and carried 
!ut experiments. Not knowing Melies' technical methods, which the French- 
man kept strictly secret, he built up his first trick films not on multiple exposures, 
ut on the printing of one positive from two and then from several negatives, 
^ith the greatest of difficulty he constructed a printing apparatus which enabled 
im to make multiple' prints on one and the same positive. In the course of 
is work he began to use masks and shutters in the printer, with which he made 
le first fades and dissolves. It has to be said that in certain cases his work 
cached such a high technical level that even in present-day conditions certain 
f his achievements remain unsurpassed. 

In Georges Melies and Robert Paul we have the founders of the two main 
indencies in the modern technique of composite film effects. The first tendency, 
'hich has as its basis the principle of partial and multiple exposure, afterwards 
eveloped into the optical combination of images during snooting which we 
ave to-day. The second tendency brings us to the greatest achievement of 
resent-day cinematograph mechanism : the copying automaton of the optical 
rinter, with which the most complicated combinations of films can be made 
1 the laboratory. 

A little earlier than Melies and Paul an American, William Dickson, one 
f the closest assistants of Thomas Edison, began experiments with the ' kine- 
wtograph ' apparatus he had constructed. In 1884 the first production of 
lm spools was begun in America by the chemists Eastman and Walker. Dickson 
sed this light-sensitive material in his work, and in the same year set up the 
rst film studio, which afterwards was nicknamed ' Black Maria '. 

The perfecting of technical resources and the influx of capital investments 
"ansformed the cinema into an industry. It became a mass spectacle. For 
early four years the content of the first films remained news subjects, but by the 
eginning of the new century a differentiation arose in cinematography analogous 
:> that which had taken place earlier in photography. Thenceforth the scientific 
nd technical research cinema developed independently, regularly issued news- 



Fig. 74. — Robert Paul, one of tr 
first camera-man inventors, 1896. 

reels began to appear, and finally the ' play ' cinema was established. In searc 
of subjects the cinema turned to the theatre, and primarily to the contemporar 

Who was responsible for the guidance of these early cinema enterprises 
Who was the owner of the first cinema factory ? 

There is an interesting description of the early business leaders in the cinem 
industry in an article, by the director G. V. Alexandrov, devoted to the America] 

Where did the people come from who at that time were the controllers or owners 
the ' Hollywood Film World ' ? 

At the dawn of cinematography adventurers of all kinds abandoned their fairgrounds' 
roundabouts, maisons de joie, and show booths, and began to ' work ' with success in the 
field of cinematographic activity. Their pictures brought them great returns, and the; 
became capitalists, the controllers of American cinematography. 1 

Of the director in the present-day sense of the word there was no though 
at that time. In the chase after profit journalist types who had worked in th» 
sphere of gutter detective activity, and hangers-on from the lower fringes of th< 
theatre easily found their way to the production of cinema pictures, exploiting 
the few camera-men necessary in the capacity of sole * specialists '. Films wen 
produced largely by poorly qualified photographers, who were far from bein£ 
artists and had taken up * living photography ' because it provided a new sourq 
of income. In the best case these men were of the Georges Melies, Robert Pau 
and Dickson type, and in the worst were photographers who had not found roorr 
for themselves in so-called ' art ' photography. 

1 G. V. Alexandrov, " American Film Production ", article in the journal Proletariat, 
Kino, Nos. 15-16, 1932. 



In the search after new subjects for demonstration the cinema turned to 
utter detective literature. The first detective films appeared, and, in accordance 
/ith the social functions they fulfilled, as a means of amusing the ' rabble ', the 
inema received due estimate from the representatives of bourgeois aesthetics, 
n his book Das Kino in Gegenwart unci Zukunft, Konrad Lange writes : 

Moving photography is less artistic than the ordinary kind. Consequently it has to 
e compared not with the pictorial and sculptural arts, as genuine arts, but with the various 
inds of fairground attraction. 

In his dissertation on Philosophie des Films, 
similar negative dictum : 

926, Rudolph Harms quoted 

The cinematograph, like all mechanical things, is by its nature more an enemy than 
n aid to culture. By comparison with it even the roughest of circuses is an artistic institu- 
ion (Benno Ruttenauer). 1 

As we see, at that stage of its development the film could make no claim to 
he title of an art product, to being, in other words, an artistic phenomenon, 
/lore than that, in certain cases the cinematograph became not only an in- 
rtistic phenomenon, but downright dangerous, contradicting the elementary 
•ases of bourgeois ethics and morals. 

If anything can be called a coarse indecorum [wrote Konrad Lange], then first and 
Dremost it is the public presentation of actions prohibited by the criminal code. 

Thus, in regard to the cinema bourgeois aesthetics completely maintained 
he position earlier adopted in regard to photography, denying that it was an art. 

Considering the cinema as ' living photography ', bourgeois and petty bour- 
geois aesthetics exactly repeated its old error. More than that. The rejection 
A photography as an art became the chief prerequisite to the denial of cine- 
matography's right to call itself an art. 

Fig. 75. — Shot from a trick film by Georges Melies. 

1 See Harm's book Philosophie des Films, 1926, p. 33, pub. Academia, Leningrad, 




Moving photography [says Lange], can be recognised as an art only to the extei 
that it is photography. But, as everybody knows, photography is not a genuine art. 

We have already considered the reasons for this negative attitude to phot( 
graphy. The same reasons apply in regard to the cinema. But in the cinerr 
the gutter influence was even more striking ; vulgarity was even better equippec 
And so there was more justification for this highly learned aesthetic hypocris 1 
This juxtaposition of the cinema and photography, the view of the cinema merei 
as ' moving photography ' is of interest to us in two aspects. In the first plac< 
this attitude later led to the estimate of the camera-man's role as that of a technia 
executant, passively photographically fixing the object filmed : an attitude whic 
has to be combated even at the present day. Secondly, while not denying th 
essential distinguishing features of movement and dynamism, Lange denied an 
qualitative distinction of cinema from ' moving photography '. In fact, it is thi 
very qualitative distinction, the result of definite internal processes, which con 
stitutes the specific feature which transforms the cinema into an art of quite 
special kind, different in principle from the theatre and painting. 

Snatched away from the scientific laboratory and put into the grip of com 
mercial exploitation, the cinematograph was transformed into a means of mas 
amusement. With extreme realisticness the photographic lens represented what 
ever came within its field of vision. To the indignant eyes of the art expert i 
provided a genuine, completely unadorned spectacle of ' art for the masses ', ar 
of the ' fairground and show-booth '. The simple juxtaposition of these twj 
* types ' of new art with the classic productions of painting and the theatre con 
/vinced the bourgeois aesthete that they had nothing and could have nothing ii 
common. 1 If the cinema does not want to be painting or theatre, then cinem 
is not an art. It belongs to a second class outside the bounds of art, to thi 
class mechanical, ' hostile to culture by its very nature ' (Benno Ruttenauer) 
And, on the other hand, the attempts to ' ennoble ' the cinema, to make it a ' real 
art ' followed the lines of mechanically imitating the theatre, and painting, wit! 
cinematographic resources. Photography and cinematography are essentially 
realistic. In representing that which it least of all ought to represent, i.e. no' 
reality itself but reality passed through the treatment of another art, the cinem; 
is indeed transformed into a non-artistic phenomenon. 

The further development of the cinema can be conveniently divided int( 
two periods. At first it was subjected to theatrical culture, owing to whicl 
elements of the organisational and creative structure of the theatre were intro 
duced into cinema production. During this period the film director strength 
ened his hegemony, and so dammed any possibility of creative growth for the 

The second period, which brings us down to the contemporary Westerr 
cinema, was distinguished in its beginnings by the flourishing of scenario treat 
ments expressed as a literary form. Departing from the tradition of the stage 
the cinema borrowed from literature the construction of things as a whole, endea- 

1 It is interesting to note that for a number of years even such an artist as Meyerhok 
maintained the attitude of bourgeois aesthetics, denying that the cinema was an art. Ir 
his book On the Theatre published in 191 2 he wrote : 

" The cinema, that heathen temple of the modern cities, is given too much importance 
by its defenders. The cinematograph has undoubtedly great importance for science, b) 
serving as an auxiliary in descriptive demonstrations. The cinematograph is an illustrated 
newspaper (Events of the Day) for some it replaces travelling. But there is no place for 
the cinematograph on the plane of art, even where it desires to occupy only an ancillary 



Fig. 76. — Shot from the Georges Melies film 
"On Saturn's Ring". 

mring on this basis to work out and perfect its own means of artistic influence, 
ecific to the cinema. 

What modifications did this form of cinematographic development introduce 
to the position and the creative production functions of the camera-man as one 
I the makers of the film ? 

His profession was regarded as socially rather higher than that of the chauffeur, 
it considerably below that which was anciently occupied by the portrait photo- 
■apher. Portrait photography was at least regarded as an artistic phenomenon, 
hereas the adventure film was regarded only as a ' tolerated violation of the 
iminal laws ', tolerated to the extent that it turned the attention of the audience, 
liefly members of the working class, away from social reality. 

In the youthful days of the cinema the methods of constructing the shot were 
I direct dependence upon the slavish imitation of the forms of perception cus- 
•mary to the theatrical spectacle. The frame limits were determined by the 
imensions and situation of the proscenium. The camera viewpoint was estab- 
Ished along a line perpendicular to the object being filmed, and the height of the 
imera varied within the strict limits of 4-5 to 5 feet, which corresponds to the 
ye-level inferred from the average distribution of seats in the theatre (Fig. 77). 
The composition of the shot was restricted by the demand for unconditional 
^mmetry in the distribution of the actors and the objects being filmed. Cine- 
matography, which at that time was still unacquainted with the close-up or even 
le mid-shot, made no aesthetic demands in constructing the shot, regarding the 
ntire process of shooting as a mechanical reproduction of moving objects. This 
"pplied to the same degree to artificial lighting, which to-day is one of the most 
jnsiderable resources of composition construction. The variability of sun- 
ght forced the cinematographer to resort to a darkened studio, and necessitated 
ae invention of other methods of lighting. Sunlight had to be replaced by some- 
ling, and this replacement was effected on the basis of the direct imitation of 
le action of the lost source of light. The rays of sunlight which penetrated into 
;ie primitive film studio through a glass roof lit the filmed scene from above, 



down the verticals. In the closed studio the first lighting equipment was t 
up on the same principle. All that was thought necessary was to light the sce> 
sufficiently for exposure in the studio to become possible. At that time the; 
was no thought of its being possible to regulate and direct the light rays. Fom 
long time artificial light was regarded in cinematography as only a techni<| 
necessity, an ' inevitable evil ', arising out of the peculiarities of the cinematogra J 
film and rendering the camera-man's work more difficult, for he saw his task or' 
as that of filling the frame with equal, diffused lighting predominantly from abo: 
and from the sides. 

As studio technique grew more complicated, and not only work in natui 
i.e. exterior shooting in the true sense, but also ' naturalistic ' sets with artifici 
lighting were brought into practice, there was a considerable change in the meth< 
of constructing the shot. The first outdoor use of the pan broke down tl 
immobility of the orthodox theatrical proscenium. But the absence of the close-i 
compelled the camera-man to introduce the * mask ' as a means of concentratii 
the spectator's attention on a definite detail. We may note in passing that tl 
' mask ', which as an isolator has fallen into desuetude, played a considerable pa 
in the process of realising the new possibilities of shooting, since it showed tl 
way of applying isolation to an object in exposing the shot, and also opened tl 
way to methods of composite work with silhouetted and lighted objects. 

Certain other movements away from theatrical influence were also observab 
in the methods of constructing the shot at this time, and especially in lightin 
But they were still far from being indicative of any creative understanding of tl 
tasks of composition. 

Now developed the first theory of ' studio lighting ', worked out on the bas 
of primitive naturalism. In accordance with this theory the light had first an" 
foremost to be ' natural ', and, if a scene at a window was being taken, for example 
the light rays had to penetrate into the room only through that window. N 
other lighting methods were employed. The violation of this law was regarde 
as indicative of illiteracy, just as, in its time, the change of the height of th 
horizon or asymmetry in the frame was regarded as indicating lack of taste in th 
camera-man. This tendency had such strong influence that even to-day th 
vestiges of the former fear of ' unnatural ' light sources are to be observed in th 
work of many camera-men. In America this lighting naturalism resulted in th 
camera-men regarding it as correct to give only such lighting as would not b 
noticed at all by the spectator, and even to-day the average American camera-mai 
regards this reduction of artificial light to the level of a simple technical necessity 
as showing a high degree of perfection in his art. 

From the aspect of the artistic organisation of the cinema shot no essentia 
changes were to be noted during this period. The camera-man was requirec 
chiefly to provide a clear photographic image, or in the best case a few picture 
postcard pictorial effects and landscapes. As cinematography as a whole was 
still not regarded as an art, the cinema shot also remained outside the confines 
of artistic treatment, and so it was still impossible to speak of any shot composition 
in the real sense of the word. 

Thus, during the first decade of extensive cinematographic practice the 
creative tendencies of the camera-man's art amounted simply to the technical, 
mechanical reproduction of the object filmed. To his share fell the ungrateful 
task of cinematographically illustrating the literary theme of the scenario. The 
sovereign hegemony of the director, who came to the cinema from adjacent spheres 
of art, thrust the camera-man out of the sphere of creative work, leaving him 



Fig. 77. — Viewpoint selected for camera in primitive ' theatricalised ' studio. 

nly the one way of perfection along the line of formal methods of shooting 
ortraits and landscapes, and trick filming. 

None the less, even within these narrow limits the cinematograph could not 
'ise to the level of the craftsmanship which had characterised the brilliant period 
f Daguerre in photography. To a large extent master of the construction of 
tatic photography, the camera-man became hopelessly impotent as soon as he 
ame up against the necessity of constructing a dynamic shot. 

The arrival of the close-up brought a decisive break in the development of 
amera-man's methods. By stimulating the creation of modern editing, the 
lose-up had a considerable influence also upon the methods of artistic organisa- 
ion of the shot. But one of the immediate results of its application was the 
ransfer to cinematography of the worst traditions of portrait photography. The 
art ' portrait, so memorable in all its varieties of ' salon ' post-cards, became the 
)bject of the average camera-man's enthusiasm. Over a number of years close- 
lps of all kinds of beautiful heads dominated the screen. The camera-man's 
irt received its artistic heritage by no means from the hands of the true pioneers 
)f art photography, but through the innumerable intervening instances of the 
llustrated gutter press of the late nineteenth century. 

Thus, during the early period of the development of the camera-man's art, 
vhich for convenience we call the * reproduction ' period, representational culture 
leveloped mainly on the basis of two dominating influences. On the one hand 
here was the influence of the theatre, which restricted the camera-man's creative 

I5 1 


tendencies within the limits of the cinematic fixation of isolated fragments of in 
theatre spectacle. On the other there was the influence of professional pho- 
graphy, which, in respect to its artistic level, was outside the bounds of art. 

The poverty of the technical resources, the unwieldiness and immobility f 
the camera, the restricted possibilities of the lens and light-sensitive material 1 
rendered the camera-man's work very difficult. And there was no clear und<- 
standing of the tasks of composition as a means of expressively organising t: 
shot. The camera-man's sole task was the exact representation of the sit 
object, which was placed before the camera in the position dictated by the pe 
ception of the spectator watching a theatre spectacle. It was the cinematograp. 
of a single and moreover immobile viewpoint. 

Only with the arrival of artistic literature in the cinema did the demai 
arise for a definite aesthetic minimum in regard to the cinema shot. Enrich 
with new technical possibilities, the camera-man's technique sought its ov 
expressive resources. Endeavouring to bring elements of art into his work, ai 
still not knowing how to manifest those elements through the specific attribut 
of cinema, he built up his work by borrowing them from the pictorial arts, 
search of representational possibilities he copied the classic types of one or anoth 
school, and from that moment the cinema began to pass through a long perk 
of ' infantile sickness ' of pictorial imitation. 

J 52 


When we speak of the influence of pictorial art in the early period of develop- 

nt of the art of the camera-man, we deliberately use the term ' pictorial imita- 

n ', since in their primary form these pictorial tendencies amounted mainly to 

2 iechanical copying of individual compositional schemes and methods of lighting 

lid in one or another product of pictorial art. 

In its elementary form the imitation of pictorial art began at the moment 
\ ien the camera-man attempted mechanically to copy the compositional schemes 
c those pictorial products similar in subject to the tasks of the single frames 
c a given film. We find this similarity in early films of Italian origin, for in- 
s nee " Quo Vadis " and " Salammbo ", and then in the German historical pie- 
ces of a later period (" Lucrezia Borgia "). Certain American films which 
\ re issued during the war and immediately post-war period (" Intolerance ", 
The Ten Commandments ") were also not free from mechanical borrowing of 
: ^positional schemes. These films are of interest for the contradiction which 
e ists between the construction of the long- and mid-shots on the one hand, and 
fe close-ups on the other. 

The relatively static quality of the long- and the mid-shots, made it possible 
I apply to these the central, symmetrical composition of the pictures of the Renais- 
lce period with their pomp and monumentalism, transferred to the perfection 
the frame locked-in-itself. These shots were regarded as expressive to the 
tent to which, by cinematographic means, they reproduced subjects known 
>m pictorial art, and their ' artistic qualities ' were judged in direct dependence 
on the extent to which the camera-man approximated them to the copied 
oduction. The situation was different with the composition of nearer groups 
d close-ups, where simple copying became impossible owing to the dynamic 
ality of the subjects. These shots interrupted and destroyed the illusion of 
rtiness ' in the film as a whole, since they sharply differed from the pictorial 
flisation of the long-shots. Whilst in long-shots the camera-man was still able 
reproduce exactly the compositional scheme of the original, even approximately 
tching the main principles of distribution of masses and lighting, with the 
insition to dynamic group compositions and close-ups he had to treat the 
bject independently, and the absence of a compositional unity of the various 
ots was at once revealed. This partly explains the striving of both director 
d camera-man towards more general, and as far as possible static constructions, 
other words towards forms which would enable them to keep to the i repro- 
iction ' standpoint entirely (Figs. 78, 79). 

In close-ups the object imitated was occasionally a portraiture product, but 


Fig. 78. — Shot from the film " The Nibelungs ". 

Fig. 79. — Shot from the film 

The Nibelungs 


J is was to be observed comparatively rarely, for at that time the close-up was in 
rteral cut very short on the screen (Fig. 80). 

During the early periods of the cinema's existence the screening of theatrical 

oductions also conditioned special forms of compositional construction of the 

ot. The camera-man's dependence on the character and dimensions of planning 

the theatrical set in the studio did not allow him to choose a construction out- 

le the limits indicated by the art director, who had come to the cinema from 

\ theatre. In such conditions the sole possible form of construction proved 

be centric composition, corresponding in its symmetry to the frontal construc- 

>n of scenery. Composition of this kind is highly characteristic of the pictorial 

It of the Renaissance, and so it was quite natural for the camera-man, working 

thin the limits of the ' scenic box ' of the studio, to assert his ' artiness ' by 

i'litating the classic types of Renaissance pictorial art. We reproduce some 

lames from certain so-called historical films of German production. In the 

rNibelungs ", " Metropolis " and a number of other theatricalised cinema pro- 

Jictions, these pseudo-classical compositions are predominant. Methods of this 

!nd are evident in almost all the ' opera ' films of Richard Oswald, and also in 

|e numerous dramatic and operetta productions of European and American 

jrectors. In its further development this attitude led to the 'studio set display ' 

yle, constructed on the eclectic mingling of a theatrical formulation with elements 

' pictorial decorativeness, which characterises the culture of the average camera- 

an of the ' standard ' cinema of Europe and America. 

A curious example of the mechanical transference of pictorial compositional 
:hemes to the cinema is also to be found in the latest historical films of American 
roduction, in which this similarity to the pictorial original is exploited as an 
Ivertisement for the ' artiness ' of the film. We give a reproduction of Davis' 
lgraving of the " Death of Nelson ", and also a shot from an American film on the 
ime subject. As can be seen from this juxtaposition, the superficial composi- 
onal features are reproduced quite successfully, although the ' historicity ' and 
artistry ' of shots of this kind as a whole are open to considerable question 
pigs. 81, 82). 

ig. 80. — Shot 
•omthe film "The 
King of Kings ". 



So far we have been speaking of the most primitive forms of pictorial imit 
ation, based on the mechanical transference of individual compositional schem 
of given pictorial products to the cinema. The camera-man's independent i 
vestigations in the direction of establishing his own representational culture beg; 
not here, not in the studio, but in the sphere of exterior photography. 

Landscape panorama, the ' paysage ' frame of the old Italian or Fren< 
films, was the field of the camera-man's first independent investigations, 
almost all the pictures of the old type, ' paysage ' shots are not characterised I 
the general style of * reproduction ' photography of the time, for they were tl 
result not of simple technical reproduction, but of definite creative tendencie 
These shots were frequently included in the picture as a self-sufficient pictori 
element, sometimes entirely without relation to the general construction of tl 
film, being offered to the spectator as a kind of ' emotional kick '. It is curioi 
to note that even in present-day films shots of this kind sometimes preserve the 
independent significance. They are cut in by virtue of a very remote narrath 
link, that serves almost as an excuse, and not infrequently only to provoke a fe 
rapturous exclamations from the spectators, their attention then being transferre 
back to the main action. The landscape shot, carried out independently, pointe 
the road of treatment opened by the new technical resources. Instead of tl 
clearly defining anastigmatic lens, the glass diffused or softening lens came int 
use, silk gauzes were introduced into the system of optical transmission, an 
several other optical attachments began to be employed. The camera-ma 
began to take a serious interest in problems of lighting, which were now recognise 
as an essential element of composition, and in this way he developed a new interes 
in pictorial art, particularly in that of the impressionist school. 

The films of 191 8 to 1920 clearly reveal this characteristic departure fror 
optically sharp treatment of the subject, and the endeavour to construct th 
expressiveness of the shot on the transmission of a momentary impressior 
fortuitous and unrepeatable, manifested by the finest transitions from light spot 
to soft semi-shadows, from sunlight to a fluid silhouette. In this regard certaii 
early works of the finest of the German camera-men, such as Guido Zeber, Kai 
Hoffman, Gunther Krampf and Wagner, are of considerable interest. 

If we adopt the viewpoint of purely formalistic investigation, then obviousl 
it is not very difficult to establish the connection and succession between th 
various methods of pictorial schools and analogous methods of constructing th 
shot in artistic cinematography. 

The history of the development of representational forms in the camera-man' 
art reveals a parallel movement of two representational elements, the evolutioi 
of which brought the cinema to two basic forms of optical treatment of the shot 

Sharp, definite optical transmission, which we may call linear or graphic 
treatment of the shot, is characterised by the predominance in the optical imag< 
of a clear, sharply defined contour. The lighting is built up usually on a narrov 
tonal scale, with intensively saturated tones of black and white. Semi-tones ii 
their pictorial aerial shades and innumerable gradations do not play any decisive 
part in the expressive transmission of the image. 

Softened optical transmission, on the contrary, is distinguished by a soft 
fluid contour, and a tendency towards semi-tones, which serve as the main resource 
in constructing the image. While in the first case we are concerned with the 
movement of lines, as the main object of the spectator's perception, in softenec 
optical transmission the tonal mass, the light spot, perceived in a more generalisec 
form than as a purely linear contour, becomes predominant. 



Fig. 82. — Engraving of the same scene, serving as the pattern for mechanical imitation. 



Owing to its superficial similarity to certain tendencies in pictorial art th 
second form of transmission is not infrequently called ' pictorial treatment ' ( 
the shot. 

But of itself the presence of light and shade, the replacement of a shar 
contour by a tonal spot or the general softening of the optical outline of the imagt 
far from determine a particular style in the camera-man's art. An aggregate ( 
methods emerges as an independent style and forms an integral system wherevt 
the unity of the compositional principles is combined with the unity of the func 
tional treatment of the shot, wherever each formal and technical method is reco^ 
nised as a means of effecting ideological influence, and, finally, wherever there 
successive logical development and transition of the film composition as a genera 
ising element into the compositional forms of the various shots. The form; 
methods of ' graphicality ' or ' pictoriality ' are only essential marks of styl 
when they express a peculiarity and distinctive character in the perception of th 
world, when they are the product of a definite emotional and intellectual treatmer 
of life. Only under such conditions do we get an organic artistic productior 
with expressive resources organised as a unity in treatment of the content throug 
a definite style. 

A number of French films clearly reveal impressionist sources in the camera 
man's creative attitude. The finely filmed landscape shots in Rene Clair's picture 
provide examples of the transference to cinema not only of individual methocf 
of impressionist artists, but sometimes of complete compositional construction^ 
a general impressionist perception and treatment of nature. 

The attempt to build the shot on the finest transitions from light spots t 
fine semi-shadows, and complete contempt for the linear aspects of the objea 
the chase after gleams, silhouettes, aerial perspectives, and taking objects out c 
focus, are all characteristic features of this tendency in camera-man's treatmeni 
and relate him to the impressionist school. But is impressionism in the cinem; 
always the result of direct imitation, or does it sometimes arise as the expression 
of a definite creative attitude ? That is a question which cannot be answerer 
by way of simple analysis of only the formal elements of a film. Every art produci 
including the cinematographic, always reveals the philosophy of the man wh 
creates it. Consequently, impressionism may indeed appear in the cinema fron 
time to time as an independent phenomenon, apart from deliberate imitation o 
pictorial art, but owing to the force of logical succession one may none the les 
assume that pictorial influences have played their part even then. 

In our opinion isolated impressionist enthusiasms, which arise out of th 
camera-man's temporary interest in impressionist art on the one hand, and ou 
of an increasing interest in lighting problems on the other, are insufficient justi 
fication for speaking of a definitely expressed stylistic attitude. These isolate* 
tendencies have undoubtedly enriched camera-man's art with a number of nev 
technical resources, especially by the application of softening lenses and lighting 
but in a finished form impressionism has never existed as a creative tendency ii 
the cinema. The appearance of the light spot, the silhouette, ' Rembrandtesque 
lighting, are all attributable largely to the same imitative tendencies which com 
pelled the camera-man to bring the finished compositions of Renaissance pictoria 
productions into the cinema. The only difference is that in this case the borrow 
ing of pictorial experience took not only the course of adopting compositiona 
schemes similar in subject, but also that of studying the peculiarities of lightim 

While the impressionist tendencies, which developed as the result of pureb 



iitative influences, consisted mainly of a search for new methods of lighting, 
I» emergence of expressionist elements in certain camera-men's work has a 
iher different motivation. 

We cannot go into an ideological analysis of expressionism and its social 
dgins, but must confine ourselves to summarising its characteristic creative 
ndencies, and to stating the essence of the expressionist philosophy. 

Never was there a time shaken with such terror, with such mortal fear [says Hermann 
;hr]. Never was the world so mortally dumb. Never was man so small. Never was 
]| so timid. Never was joy so far away and freedom so dead. Need is clamant, man 
< nmons his soul, time becomes a cry of need. Art adds its cry to the darkness, it calls 
1* help, it calls for its soul : that is expressionism. 

The influence of expressionism on the cinema as a whole, and on the German 
aema of the inflation period in particular, was so obvious that it calls for no 
:ecial demonstration. We will consider only certain expressionist influences 
iiich are of interest to us from the aspect of the representational elements of 

We must note that these influences were manifested in camera-man's art 
uch later than in film direction. In carrying out the director's creative tasks 
|e camera-man by no means immediately finds the corresponding formal methods 
id technical resources for those tasks. This explains why the earliest films of 
;is tendency were not characteristic of ' cinematographic expressionism ', judged 
Dm this aspect. 

It is usual to regard the well-known film, " The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ", 

ade by the director Robert Wiene, as a typical example of expressionism in 

m production. But in this film expressionism was applied chiefly in the formu- 

:ion of the sets, the costumes, and the directorial treatment, and not (with the 

ception of the lighting), by means of the specific resources of the camera-man's 

aft, which as a whole were exploited realistically. We suggest that we have 

look for expressionism in the camera-man's work not so much in this film, as 

| the compositional peculiarities and methods of shooting which are to be found 

; a number of shots in other later films which were not generally regarded as 


Elements of expressionist treatment of the shot are to be found in many 

erman films during the years 1920 to 1923. But especially interesting are the 

ms " Nos Ferata "j 1 "Destiny", " Raskolnikov ", and the Pabst-Zeber film 

Secrets of the Soul ", in which an attempt was made to present on the screen 

!.e Freudian method of psycho-analysis. 

" Unnaturally sourced " light, compositional asymmetry, pictures extremely 
it of focus, hypertrophied close-ups taken in an abstract, symbolic cut-out 
jask giving the frame limits a new shape, a high intensivity of the visual image 
volving a deliberate modification of reality, are all obvious features of this ten- 
ancy in the camera-man's art. In expressionism we have not a passive treat- 
ment of the object by means of impressionist light and shade, exploited on the 
isis of the greatest possible approximation to naturalism, but a vital modification 
! the real visual image, subordinating reality to the inventions of the creative 

In " Nos Ferata " (directed by Murnau) the camera-man Wagner shot a bare, 
ilf- ruined brick wall with sharp and deep shadows. Passing up the wall, the 
oomy, sharply outlined shadows with their strong tonal contrast, the sharply 

1 A pirated version of "Dracula". — Ed. 

Fig. 83.— Shot from the film " The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 

Fig. 84.— Shot from the film " The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 



nerging texture all conduced to an unreal, mystical perception of the object, 
correspondence with the entire character of this film of ' terror and delirium '. 
i certain places Wagner exploits a negative image, including it in the film instead 
' a positive. The shot in which the vampire Count passes by in his carriage is 
really terrible spectacle, for the negative image creates a completely distorted 
sual effect, almost void of all suggestion of reality. 

We give several shots (Figs. 83, 84) and compositional sketches (Figs. 85, 
>) from the picture " The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ". Highly characteristic 
e the sketches for the lighting ; in certain shots the lighting is reduced to pure 
ysticism. The broken, non-natural perspective, the distribution of the light 
>ots without any logical motivation, the lighting treatment of the actor's face 
he medium Caesar) as a dead chalk mask, are all reflections of expressionist 
ndencies in the camera-man's art. 

We must also consider in more detail the work of Guido Zeber, as his films 
tost clearly reveal the pictorial and especially the expressionistic influences of 
:cent years. 

The thirty years' cinematic practice of Guido Zeber, the oldest camera-man 
the German cinema, embraces almost every stage of development of the bour- 
;ois cinema. Working mainly on technical problems, Zeber not only created 
ick technique in its modern form, but also showed the ways to its creative 
cploitation. Yet his work is not a simple demonstration of the technical possibi- 
ties of the cinema. In his films we see that high degree of perfection to which 
tistic photography in its true sense can be brought. Unfortunately, owing to 
lie conditions of development of the bourgeois cinema, these results mark the 
knit for Zeber, for he has never had an organic unity of creative outlook with his 
irectors. The one exception to this is perhaps " The Joyless Street ", in which 
abst and Zeber worked as equal creators in their craft. But even in this film 
le camera-man's isolation is apparent : we can see that in the choice of expressive 
sources he does not always see eye to eye with the director. 

Zeber 's shot, considered apart from its editing context, is always irreproach- 
}le in formalistic compositional regards. One is struck by the perfection of 
lie composition, the softness and plasticity of the lighting, the clear outline and 
le irreproachable treatment of texture. Even where he wanders off into expres- 
jonist treatment of the subject, he always remains faithful to the finest formal 
aditions of German artistic photography. Yet in expressive regards his perfect 
raftsmanship far from always serves the functional task of the shot to reveal its 
Dntent, and so, not infrequently, superficial, abstract, showy effect dominates 
lis work. This is particularly noticeable in " Secrets of the Soul ", in which he 
emonstrates a remarkable technique of multiple exposure. Yet in this very 
distance, where there would seem to be ample room for the camera-man to solve 
is compositional tasks on the basis of the film material, the absence of unity in 
le creative attitudes of Pabst and Zeber leads to the camera-man's craftsmanship 
:quiring the quality of a self-sufficing element, having no connection with the 
leological content, and in places conflicting with the dramaturgic efficacy of the 
lm. Thus we get an overloading with ornate pictorial effects, the imagery of 
hich is frequently alien to the expressiveness of the shot as a unit in the editing. 

The creative influx of expressionist elements into the work of such camera- 
len as Zeber, Hoffman and Wagner cannot be explained away as solely a 
iperficial imitation of contemporary expressionist pictorial art, or as due to 
irectorial influence. Although the expressionist tendencies in camera-man's 
rt frequently take the form of a superficial mannerism, the representational 



Fig. 85. — Lighting plan for the filr 
" The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ". ! 

treatment of such a film as " Secrets of the Soul " has only to be studied attentive! 
for one to observe the signs of a definite method, organically bound up with th 
philosophy of the camera-man, and expressing his ideology. In Zeber's worl 
we find shots compositionally treated so as to provide a kind of hint, an indication 
of an event occurring somewhere beyond the frame limits, intensifying its mystic 
ism by this apparent allusiveness. A shadow or reflection running over th 
gloomy broken flight of an unlighted staircase, a monstrously enlarged hand, 
face hyperbolically growing in non-natural camera-angle, in a painful distortioi 
emphasised by the harsh treatment of the texture and the contrast lighting, ar 
all methods which have as their purpose to symbolise a ' state of the soul ', in thi 
case the pathology of a perverted psyche. In this case, as in that of certain othe 
camera-men, the representational treatment does not arise out of the content o, 
the shot, conditioned by reality, not out of what we see in reality, but out o| 
some abstract idea symbolically revealed by the active modification of the visua 
image, by the optical distortion of the object filmed. Such features forbid ou: 
attributing them merely to directorial influence, still less to superficial imitatior 
of expressionist pictorial art, and compel us to assume that the camera-mar 
himself possesses that outlook which in pictorial art and literature is described a; 

Expressionism, which reached the height of its development during th( 
years of German inflation, undoubtedly had a profound influence on the develop- 
ment of cinema art. Despite the decadence and injurious quality of its creative 
attitude, it played a definite, positive role in the camera-man's art, albeit a purely 



| rmal one. It enriched his technique with certain new technical resources, which 
i larged the scope of the cinema's expressive possibilities. The distorting lens, 
; w methods of lighting, innumerable methods of trick shooting are all due to 
; arge extent to the unusually complex creative tasks set by expressionism, which 
;ks demanded the greatest craftsmanship and power of creative representation. 

Among the negative formalistic factors of expressionism is first and foremost 

compositional illogicality, which arose out of the stylistic peculiarities of the 

■ iting composition of expressionist films. With its deliberate ignoring of logical 

d psychological laws it created special forms of editing composition in which 

compositional succession was either violated or completely absent. 

The striving after intensified dynamism which was peculiar to expressionism 
d have positive significance, for it freed the cinema from the static frames of 
e theatricalised cinema of the preceding period. But, on the other hand, the 
iting disintegration, the unexpectedness of the transitions, the general incon- 
quentiality of the editing exposition also arose as the result of this striving after 
treme dynamism, and these led largely to compositional chaos. In expres- 
mistic shots it was difficult to distinguish any guiding motives in compositional 

After 1924 there was a retreat from expressionism in Western art generally, 
d especially in cinema, but despite the partial turn to new forms and return 
old ones, the superficial features of expressionism in camera-man's art have 
:en retained down to the present time in the bourgeois cinema. 

We find as a ' final ' tendency an original combination of expressionist ele- 
ents with an impressionist manner of treating the shot in the films of the French 
mera-man Rudolph Mate. 

Rudolph Mate, who has become famous for his work with the director 
reyer, especially in the films " The Passion of Joan of Arc ", " The Vampire ", 
id " The Extraordinary Adventure of David Grey ", has characteristically 

k^m 4v^_ 

G. 86. — Sketch for treatment of the face of the 
medium Caesar (" The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ")• 





IlJ £2kuffi 

Fig. 87. — Shot from the film " The Passion of Joan of Arc " (Rudolf Mate, cam.). 

Fig. 88.— Shot from the film " The Passion of Joan of Arc " (Rudolf Mate, cam.). 




Fig. 89. 

-Shot from the film " The Passion of Joan of Arc " (Rudolf Mate, cam.). 

stable, unbalanced compositions which express a subjective striving to convey 
1 the shot a single, unrepeatable impression of the object. The specific features 
f Mate's later work, especially in the film " The Passion of Joan of Arc ", are 
estruction of the depth of the shot by * washing ' (i.e. putting it right out of 
>cus), mid-shots and close-ups taken on the ' smooth canvas ' of a completely 
hite sky, movement expressed in sharp, frozen turns, and absorption with aerial 
erspective. Figs. 87-89 are three frames from " The Passion of Joan of Arc ". 
lmost all his shots, taken with severe foreshortening, and with extreme regard 
) aerial perspective, reveal the camera-man's subjectivism, and his avoidance of 
1 generalising features in his compositions. 

We should also note the influence of the ' abstract ' artists on the development 
f the camera-man's art. Among them we may mention the work of the Scandi- 
avian artist Viking Eggeling and his film " Light Rhythms ", also that of the 
rench ' Avant-garde ' group and the first films of Walter Ruttman. But as in 
lese films it is impossible even for the purposes of discussion to separate the 
imera-man's work from that of the artist-designer, we shall not consider them 

i6 5 


Pictorial influences in the cinema are usually explained by reference to t| 
superficial similarity of the representational resources of photography and f 
pictorial art. Maybe this explanation is partly correct, but it does not solve ti 
fundamental problem. Why is it that in regard to problems of the artis: 
construction of the shot the cinema, the youngest and most up-to-date of the ar, 
has for a number of years taken the road of mechanical imitation of pictures, a 1 
not that of mastering and transforming pictorial experience with the aid of tjj 
specific qualities of the cinematographic method of representational constructor? 
Obviously, an exhaustive explanation has to be sought not in the technique f 
reproduction, but in the peculiarities of the development of the bourgeois cinen 
of which we have already spoken, and which have so largely subjected the cinen 
to the theatre. 

We must make it clear that in discussing the inter-relationships of the cinen 
with pictorial art we by no means accept as correct the view of those theoris 
who endeavour to determine the specific features of cinematographic expressia 
by rejecting all succession and connection whatever with other representatiorl 
arts. Unquestionably pictorial art has played a considerable part in transformii'; 
the cinema into an art, and that fact is as unchallengeable as is the influence : 
the theatre and literature on the development of cinematic forms. 

Of course, that is not the real problem. We regard it as much more importa: 
to determine those changes to which the laws of pictorial art are subjected in t| 
cinema, and thus to determine which of those laws have lost their significant 
and which, on the contrary, have received further development. 

The cinema and pictorial art are related by the characteristic of being repr 
sentational. A production of pictorial art is primarily a representation built i 
on definite laws of composition. But is not the shot in its composition al 
essentially no more nor less than a representation, also subject to those laws, ar 
is not the dynamism of the cinema purely illusory ? 

That is the conclusion we must come to if we take as the basis not the she 
the editing unit of a film, but the frame, its static element. Owing to a fal 
assumption, the peculiar quality of the cinematographic process, the main cha 
acteristic distinguishing the cinema from all other forms of representational ai 
is ignored in coming to such a conclusion. We will try to restore the lost lin 

How is an artistic image produced in pictorial art ? In building up h 
picture the artist synthesises a number of general ideas which his mind has forme 
under the influence of various facts and phenomena he has observed in everydi 



ality. In the course of reducing these general ideas to concrete form he arrives 
one or another form of representational construction, which expresses not only 
e artist's subjective relationship to the concretised picture, but the influence of 
e epoch with its ideological trends. A finished product of pictorial art is a 
flection of its epoch to the extent that it expresses the outlook of the artist who 
is created it. 

A pictorial image is never absolutely identical with the object in reality, for 
1 artistic production is not a fixation of an object in its uniqueness, but is built 
p on the aggregate of a number of ideas about that object, which are creatively 
orked up into a unity. Take as an example the work of Daumier, the social 
mtent of which is revealed in extremely laconic and expressive pictures. Dau- 
ier cannot be called merely a caricaturist. He does not ' distort ' reality, but 
[presses its variety in the unity of compositional construction. And yet a 
awing by Daumier is not an absolutely exact reflection of the reality. His 
impositions are a synthesis of many phenomena, many dynamic tendencies, 
•ganically manifested and generalised in a static image. 

What distinction is there then in the process of pictorial construction in the 
nema ? 

A pictorial production is essentially self-contained, it possesses an intrinsic 
)mpleteness, and wholly expresses the picture conceived by the artist. But the 
nema shot is only an element, a single unit of an artistic production. An isolated 
lot does not give us the complete picture, it only reproduces various of its pheno- 
mena in isolation. The picture in its complete form is born at the point when 
le assembly of the shots is begun on the basis of their editing interaction. 

The psychological peculiarities of our perception — that which we frequently 
ill ' visual memory ' — allow us to regard the dynamic processes in cinema as 
:tion genuinely taking place. Consequently, in the cinema it is not the dynamism 
lat is illusory, but the static frame, which exists only for the purpose of abstract 

Pictorial art, with its picturesque construction reduced to the immobility of 
atic representation, is restricted by the representational resources available to 
. It remains a spatial art, void of all temporal qualities. William Hogarth 
jferred to the restricted nature of the representational resources of pictorial art 
t the representation of dynamic processes in his " The Analysis of Beauty ". 

The best representation in a picture, of even the most elegant dancing, as every figure 
rather a suspended action in it than an attitude, must be always somewhat unnatural and 

Pictorial art operates almost exclusively with spatial categories. Its time is 
iways abstract, and not only extraordinarily restricted, but expressed in essentially 
nly spatial visual categories (various allocations of foreground, background, etc., 
le direction of gesture of the figure, and so on). For this reason pictorial art 
annot directly convey movement, nor, consequently, action. It can only repre- 
ait a moment of movement, or convey a sense of movement by the intrinsic 
ynamism of forms, lines, colour, composition and so on. Pictorial art can only 
/oke in us the idea of action and incident, and that idea will be all the clearer 
r hen the artist represents the most characteristic situation. 

But in cinema there is the temporal element, the time category is present, 
nd so we can convey not only a represented situation, but action also. And, 
loreover, it is action not described, as in literature, but genuinely visually re- 



This, however, does not distinguish cinema from the theatre, where also w 
have action in a real situation, i.e. in a seen space. The difference consists in th 
circumstance that in the theatre we are given the real action of living people i 
relatively real three-dimensional space. But in the cinema that action is reprej 9 
sented and built up by analogy with the pictorial arts, as we have shown in analys 
ing the composition of the shot. The single frame is certainly a static picture 
but brought into movement on the screen (i.e. where in fact the perception of th 
film begins) it is no longer a static picture, but action. The cinema is a new an 
with a new, qualitatively distinguished image, although it has relation to th 
images of other arts. Only if this is taken into account can we reach a soun< 
understanding of the relationship between static and dynamic in cinema. 

Cinematic dynamism is manifested in two forms. The first is the dynamisr 
of editing, which, however, cannot be regarded as specific solely to cinema arl 
If we imagine a film edited exclusively from static frames, it is impossible t 
establish any difference in principle between such a film and pictures edited ii 
a given thematic sequence. If we imagine an ' editing of static pictures ' ant , 
then look at a film consisting of a number of immobile images, we get a resul 
absolutely identical in all essentials, in which the cinema plays only the role o 
providing certain technical means of reproduction. 

The second form is the intra-shot dynamism, which enables cinema to reflec 
any dynamic process in its real course, without reducing it to static representation 
Here the kinship with pictorial art is largely lost, and it is this form in combinatioi 
with the dynamism of editing which provides the predominant features of cinema 
In the early period of the cinema the absence of an editing theory not infrequently 
involved abuse of intra-shot dynamism. But later, with the development o 
editing and not without the influence of pictorial arts, a second tendency emerged 
taking the form of exclusion of intra-shot dynamism and its replacement by self 
sufficient editing construction, in which the shot was allotted only the role of i 
basic non-dynamic picture in the film. 

Of course, neither the one form nor the other exhausts the methods of expres- 
sive construction in the cinema, which must base its expressiveness on organic 
interaction, interpenetration of the editing and intra-shot dynamisms, in isolated 
instances even exploiting a transition to complete staticity as a means of influence 
and correction. 

The cinema may resolve a composition dynamically in its entirety, without an> 
enforced break and reduction to the static. It can and should reveal the content 
of the shot with the expressive resources organically peculiar to it, and should not 
mechanically take over superficial methods of formulation from the pictorial arts^ 

Fig. 90. — Representation of a galloping horse in a Roman fresco and in a medieval painting. 



Fig. 91. — Drawing by the Japanese artist Ogat; 
Korin (1700). 

Fig. 92. — Photographs of a 
galloping horse, taken by 

[G. 93. — Drawing by the Japanese 
artist Hokusai, made at the 


of the nineteenth 

Fig. 94. 

Photograph by Ottomar Anschutz, taken 

nd while in the early days of the cinema its expressive possibilities were created 
id developed out of the experience of the pictorial arts, now it is possible to point 
i) the converse influence of the cinema on the other representational arts. Even 
1 the early days there were some most interesting examples of cinema photog- 
iphy's influence on pictorial art. 

Man's visual culture, i.e. the character of his perception of surrounding 
^ality, is not an absolutely fixed quantity : it changes and evolves. For instance, 
near perspective as a form of perception has not existed everywhere and always : 
fiere are entire epochs in the cultural development of various people in which 
near perspective as a form of perception was passed over. Our visual culture 
> also by no means free from a number of visual habits and fetishes, which deter- 
nine the forms of visual representation most customary to us. We perceive the 
urrounding environment under the influence of these visual habits, and not 
^frequently those notions of objects which seem most in correspondence with 
eality far from correspond with it. A curious confirmation of this is found in 
apanese graphic art, which has compositional bases which the European percep- 
ion has to regard as abstract in many respects. 

Until the invention of photography, and sometimes, even, to this day, Euro- 



pean artists have persisted in representing a galloping horse with both hind-le^ 
stretched backward, and both forelegs stretched forward (Fig. 90). Our visu; 
culture, by force of a certain inertia, never notices the deviation from reality i 
drawings of this kind. But the Japanese represented a galloping horse quit 
differently in their pictorial art, and our eye, trained in a certain habit of oercep 
tion, cannot reconcile itself to the Japanese construction. And so we call 
abstract. With the invention of photography, when Muybridge succeeded i 
fixing a galloping horse in a series of sequentially taken photographs representin 
the various phases of the movement, a simple comparison of one of them (Fi^ 
92) with a drawing by the Japanese artist Ogata Korin, made in 1700 (Fig. 91 
led to a quite unexpected discovery. It transpired that the eye of the Japanes 
artist, unfettered by the European's visual fetishes, had been able to catch th 
animal in a position, in a phase of movement which we Europeans cannot isolat 
from the general dynamic process. Thus, Japanese graphic art, which wa 
regarded as abstract in its composition, in a number of respects reflects realit 
more truly than European naturalistic painting. The same conclusion arise 
from a comparison of the drawing of a stork about to fly, made by the Japanes* 
artist Hokusai at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Fig. 93), with ai 
analogous photograph by Ottomar Anschutz, taken in 1894 (Fig. 94). 

Snapshot photography and, later, cinema sharply modified the manner ii 
which pictorial art transmits various phases of dynamic processes, because th< 
artist became provided with a new source of perception and observation of reality 
one more perfect than the human eye. 

In 1 82 1 Gericault was still drawing a galloping horse with legs spread ou 
symmetrically, two forelegs forward, two hind-legs backward (" Race for th< 
Derby at Epsom "), but in 1880 Speyer in his " Moroccan Fantasy " representee 
galloping horsemen with great approximation to reality, undoubtedly owing tc 
the influence of photography. 

In the same way the specific peculiarities of photographic perspective alsc 
have their reflection in painting, caricature, and the graphic arts generally. The 
perspective foreshortening which is achieved in photography by taking the object 
with a short-focus lens evokes imitation in painting, caricature, and especially 
in the poster. 

In Fig. 95 we give a photograph of a poster by the artists Mikhailik and 
Gershanik. Undoubtedly such a compositional treatment, based on the juxta- 
position of two different foreshortenings, could have arisen only because of the 
influence of photography and the cinema. The sharp perspective diminution of 
the police and the characteristic cutting off of the figure in the foreground by the 
picture limits, are specific to the cinematographic construction of a shot taken with 
a short-focus lens. 

A fundamental influence has also been brought to bear on modern pictorial 
art by such forms of photographic art as photo- montage. 1 

By the mutual enrichment of experience we get the specific tendencies of 
so-called ' pictorial photography ', in which it is difficult to separate the pictorial 
from the photographic elements. 

The cinema has enriched the pictorial arts primarily with a variety of new 
viewpoints, a new view of the object. Cinematographic foreshortening, mani- 
fested in the dynamics of a turn, has become an achievement of modern pictorial 
art. Not infrequently the cinema frame is directly imitated by the pictorial 

1 It is particularly interesting to trace the influence on modern Western art of such 
photographer-artists as Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy. — N. 



Fig. 95. — May Day 

.rtist. Cinematographic pictures are frequently copied by artists, and, finally, 
;ven the stylistic peculiarities of the cinema are frequently reflected in pictorial 
f trt. 

Compare the photograph of Sokolov's picture " The Arrest of the Provisional 
jovernment " with a frame dealing with the same subject, taken from Eisenstein- 
Hsse's film, " October ". Careful study will reveal not only a general similarity 
n the compositional scheme, but identity in all the details of the planning and of 
he individual images. The figure of Antonov-Ovseenko, the Red Guard standing 
it his side, the figure of the Minister, the group of sailors in the left foreground, 
ire all borrowed entirely from frames of the film " October ". The artist had only 
.0 introduce the chandelier also into his picture for his work to have lost all claim 
o originality. 

Analogous examples are to be found in Samokhvalov's picture : ' V. I. 


Fig. 96. — Arrest of the Provisional Government. Frame from " October". 

Fig. 97. — " Arrest of the Provisional Government ". Painting by M. Sokolov. 



,enin's Arrival in Petrograd in 1917 ", Ptchelin's " Session of October 10th ", 
ad N. Shukhmin's " Landing from the Aurora in 1917 ". These pictures all 
^produce subjects with the same compositional planning and the same details. 
5 those of certain frames of the film " October ". 

Thus in various regards cinema and pictorial art mutually complement, 
lutually enrich each other. For the camera-man the study and knowledge of 
le laws of pictorial art are not only necessary but obligatory. He must learn 
om the artistic heritage of the pictorial, architectural and plastic arts, for only 
1 such conditions can he consciously apply in his work the experience accumulated 
y the representational arts of origin earlier than the cinema. 

But in what form can the camera-man borrow and apply that experience ? 

It is essential that there must be no mechanical copying, no mechanical 
ransference to the cinema of various methods and compositions of pictorial art, 
jst as in pictorial art there should be no simple copying of the cinema frame. 
Vhen applying the compositional scheme of any pictorial production in his shot 
onstruction, the camera-man must by analysis abstract and elucidate the principles 
f that compositional scheme, must envisage it not merely as a formal method, 
ut as a philosophic quantity, as a method of artistic treatment of the real object. 
L comparison of the shot's functional task with the principle of the proposed 
ompositional scheme will at once reveal to what extent that scheme is suitable 
or the expression of that functional and emotional task. In the search for methods 
f lighting, also, the camera-man is justified in turning to pictorial experience, 
ut here, too, a critical approach is necessary, because any given method must 
>e organically connected with the general representational treatment of the film. 
)nly that which organically derives from the representational treatment adopted, 
nd does not contradict the general style of the film, only those methods for which 
here is definite intrinsic justification can be exploited as means of artistic influ- 
nce. When undertaken from this viewpoint the critical borrowing and master- 
ing of pictorial experience is entirely expedient. When such an attitude is adopted 
he antagonism between pictorial art and the cinema is entirely eliminated. 

But the mechanical copying of pictorial productions and various methods of 
»ictorial art always leads to a superficial, external ' pictorial formulation ', which 
leprives the film of its genuinely cinematic expressiveness and transforms it 
nto a ' substitute for representational arts '. 



The representational qualities of the object filmed, as a subject for artistic 
representation, by no means always coincide with its expressiveness, that is, its 
ability to evoke in the spectator the definite association indicated in the scenario 
and the director's instructions. That is why in practice cinema art resolutely 
rejects any kind of canonised aesthetic recipes. Is it possible in the cinemato- 
graphic process to establish the existence of intrinsic expressiveness in any object ? 
With the aid of the famous theory of photogenics, for instance, by which was 
understood a peculiar ability of certain objects to create effective, impressive 
shots, owing to qualities intrinsic in their form or surface ? 

Practically, in the conditions of the Soviet cinema, we can regard the theory, 
of photogenics as dead. Yet, despite several works by leading cinematographers 
disproving this theory, leisured theoreticians are still busily composing catalogues 
of photogenic and non-photogenic objects. Objects with a clear-cut contour and 
a characteristic texture, evoking an effective play of light and shade in the film, 
cityfied styles of buildings with rectangular construction, metallic objects with a 
smooth, polished surface are all recognised as photogenic owing to their innate 
beauty, and are recommended to the camera-man as * effective ' material for 
the screen. 

The theory of photogenics is simply one of the manifestations of bourgeois 
formalism and worship of things for their own sake. When the photogenic 
theory is predominant the bourgeois cinema (and the Soviet cinema also for some 
time was under its influence) becomes a prey to lack of ideas, gives itself over to 
thoughtless delight in the forms and textures of the material. The specific 
peculiarities of the bourgeois entertainment cinema also had their share in this 
result. In the directorial sphere a slavish satisfaction of the petty suburban 
aesthetic requirements of the bourgeois spectator led to the creation of favourite 
cliches, and in the camera-man's sphere to the selection, on the grounds of super- 
ficial effect, of the objects most easily susceptible to photography. Instead of 
ensuring that with the aid of technical resources and a definite expenditure of 
creative energy the photographed material shall achieve maximum expressiveness 
in the required direction, the bourgeois camera-man prefers to limit his activity 
to objects which, from the viewpoint of the sugary aesthetics of the bourgeois 
cinema-goer, are sufficiently beautiful in themselves. This attitude tends to 
neutralise his role, for not only is he not master of the material, but he simply 
renounces all participation in the creative process of making the film. A bourgeois 
fetishism for things, plus suburban ' salon ' aesthetics concealed under a super- 



icial, sugary beauty, such is the content of photogenics in bourgeois cinema 
practice. It is more qualitatively refined and formalistic in the European cinema, 
q the work of Delluc, for instance, and more banal, vulgar and naive in the 
standard ' cinema production of America. 

In Soviet conditions creative work founded on such methods would un- 
doubtedly be injurious and reactionary, for it would not only fail to organise 
he spectator, but would socially disorientate him, replacing the ideological content 
>y purely aesthetic, superficially * artistic ' moulds. 

The German theorist of the cinema, Rudolf Arnheim, devotes a whole 
:hapter to " The psychology of the Mass-Produced Film " in his book Film. 1 
ie says : 

Nearly all the stories of these films follow — unconsciously or otherwise — a definite 
rend ; not that they are preaching ; on the contrary, the dangerous thing about this trend 
s that nothing is formulated theoretically, nothing is exacted ; but the standpoint from 
vhich the things of this world are regarded, the choice of narrative and its implicit moral, 
ire unilateral. . . . The mass-produced film titillates what is bad and stupid in man, 
t ensures that dissatisfaction shall not burst into revolutionary action, but shall fade away 
n dreams of a better world. It serves up in a sugar coating what really needs combating. 
j . . It is only necessary to pick out one or two of these films and to analyse them, and 
t will be seen at once how much secret poison there is in such apparently harmless enter- 

Where did the theory of photogenics arise ? Its introduction to cinemato- 
graphy has to be attributed to Louis Delluc, who regarded as photogenic features 
hat possessed character first and foremost. But this opinion admits the possi- 
bility of there being absolutely non-photogenic features as well as photogenic 
mes. And what is an absolutely non-photogenic face ? It is one void of any 
characteristic peculiarities whatever : in other words, it is a pure idealistic abstrac- 
tion, void of all qualities, and consequently quite unimaginable. 

The idea evoked in our minds by the superficial aspect of any object arises 
joy no means as the result of an immediate visual impression, but, as Plekhanov 
Pointed out : 

Sensations evoked by a certain combination of colours or of objects, even among 
primitive peoples, are associated with very complex ideas, and at any rate many such 
jbrms and combinations seem beautiful only thanks to such associations. 2 

The impression evoked in our minds by the sight of a motor-car acquires a 
certain direction not only because we see a smoothly polished surface, the gleaming 
iiietal parts and the plastic form of the body, but also because with our view of 
:he car is associated the idea of speed of movement, and we value a car from the 
aspect of its service for this purpose. Any attempt to arrive at a valuation of the 
expressiveness of such material from the standpoint of bourgeois ' a priori ' or 
I formalistic ' aesthetics invariably leads to serious errors, of which we see many 
examples in the history of the development of technical forms. 

In the period of the birth of machine industry the machine, as we have already 
pointed out, was regarded as doubly unaesthetic. The first locomotives were 
provided with relief ornamentation in pseudo-classical style, giving them a super- 
ficial approximation to the ornamental finish of coaches. The chimneys were 
*iven the form of Corinthian columns, and the wheels were adorned with garlands. 
The unpleasant impression caused by the total absence of justification for such 

1 Film, translated from the German by L. V. Sieveking and Ian F. D. Morrow, Faber 
& Faber, 1933 — Ed. 

2 Plekhanov : Letters without Address. — N. 



decoration was erroneously attributed to the action of the machine itself. But 
later, having accepted the machine, instead of organically perceiving it as a new 
subject for aesthetics, bourgeois aesthetics ascribed to it a * pure ' objective beauty 
of its own. Bourgeois aesthetics only changes its fetish, but by no means changes 
the standpoint of its aesthetic estimates. 

But if even objects and things evoke in us aesthetic impressions not ' in them 
selves ', but only as the result of our specific estimate of them, in relation to their 
function and purpose, this applies in still greater measure to living objects, and 
especially to man. We need not go further into the psychology of aesthetic per 
ception, but note only that it is always conditioned socially and historically. 

The sphere of visual perception is still insufficiently studied to enable us to 
talk of an immediate estimate of operative elements. Even when we take as our 
starting-point not a single shot, but an edited episode or scene, we can predetermine 
the character of the spectator's perception of any particular section of the film 
only very approximately, and then only granted a number of conditions, chief of 
which is that the social composition of the audience shall be known beforehand. 
Consequently it would be a great mistake to consider associative perception 
as a kind of unconditional reaction, corresponding to the simplest type of reflexo- 
logical scheme. However, all this does not diminish in the least the possibilities 
of applying a single guiding criterion in estimating cinematic expressiveness. 
The whole problem consists in determining what particular association we have 
to deal with. If the orientation is fixed on a single, individual association, a pre- 
liminary estimate of the influencing elements in cinematographic shots is quite 
unthinkable, for, despite the uniformity of line of the majority of people, such an 
associative perception is the actual source of an endless variety in the character 
of impressions and tastes. But if we are speaking of association more or less 
generalised, in other words, peculiar to a definite group of people occupying a 
definite place in the social system — which association inevitably has a social tinge — 
a preliminary estimate becomes more possible. 

Formal properties are not the main criteria in the artistic estimate of the 
expressiveness of an object. At the basis of perception is an involved ideological 
complex, which cannot be excluded from aesthetic perception, although of course 
one cannot completely reject the possibility of looking at so-called characters of 
beauty from a certain standpoint with a measure of objectivity. Consequently, 
any selection of expressive characters, made only with the aid of aesthetic recipes 
and abstract laws laid down once for all, will be fundamentally wrong, and will 
only lead to the superficial type of a ' standard of beauty '. 

It is extremely interesting to investigate the evolution which the theory of 
photogenics has accomplished in the conditions of the American cinema. Here 
we meet with a peculiar theory of ' sex appeal ' which is in every respect a consistent 
development of the theory of photogenics. Speaking of the selection of actors 
in the American cinema, the director G. V. Alexandrov says of the ' expressive 
characters' on which the selection is based : 

The choice of actors for the cinema is made first and foremost on the basis of the 
given actor or actress possessing ' sex-appeal '. Consequently, when the actor or actress 
applies to the producer, he engages them only if, in his opinion, he or she is capable of 
exerting this erotic influence. Nothing else matters, so long as money can be made out 
of the appeal of the given actor. 1 

1 G. V. Alexandrov, " American Film Production ", in the journal Proletarian Kino, 
Nos. 15-16, 1932. 



Fig. 98. — Ramon Novarro, photograph 
taken with ' characterising ' lighting. 


99. — Ramon Novarro, ' standard 
American photograph. 

The invasion of the camera-man's art by such theoretical prerequisites as 
that of photogenics led to the establishment of standard methods of lighting and 
optical treatment of the visual image in the bourgeois cinema. If a close-up of 
a girl is to be taken the camera-man directs all his efforts into emasculating the 
facial texture, and depriving it of its characteristic and typical features. A 
fetishised image of a woman is created with a clear light aureole around her head, 
shining eyes, clearly defined shadows from the long, painted lashes ; a picture 
reminding one of a mannequin rather than a living human face with the individual 
features essential to it. A soft-focus lens smooths out all the inequality on the 

j face, a soft, diffused frontal light destroys the relief, a strong back light emphasises 
only the contoural outlines, and as a result we see on the screen ' ideally beautiful ' 

, close-ups, exact copies of the picture-postcard ' beauties ' beloved of the petty 

How strongly the face is modified by such methods of optical treatment is 
evident from a comparison of the two photographs given in Figs. 98 and 99. 
The characteristic, naturally energetic face of Ramon Novarro is never shown us 

j by the American cinema. Instead of this picture we see a sugary, handsome 

- youngster, in whose face no individuality, nothing typical and vital is left. This 
emasculated manikin is as far from the original as the American cinema as a whole 
is from the realistic reflection of actuality. 

In Fig. 100 we give six close-ups from various American films. Even if the 
spectator attentively studies each of these portraits with care for some minutes, 
he will not be able to remember a single face, so alike are they to one another. 
And besides, it is unnecessary that he should. The camera-man's task here 
has consisted only in manifesting the general prettiness of each girl and emphasising 
the superficial factors of ' sex appeal ' — the eyes, the lips, the lashes. The spectator 
has no need of an actress ; he is satisfied with seeing a sexual fetish, in all cases 
evoking one and the same emotions. 



Fig. ioo. — Six close-ups from various American films. 

Fig. ioi. — Wax 
advertising models. 

i 7 8 


3. 1 02. — Mother and child. Shot from the 
film " Women by Day ". 

G. 103. — Mother and child. Shot from the 
film " The Fate of Renata Langen ". 

10. 104. — Mother and child. Shot from the 
film " Waste and Want ". 

Compare these six portraits with the photograph in Fig. 10 1. Do not these 
six models remind us of the girls portrayed in Fig. 100 ? In the last resort the 
distinction consists only in the fact that these ' beautiful heads ' are immobile, 
whereas the cinema ' beauties ' are dynamic. 

The search for ' photogenic ' types leads the camera-man of the bourgeois 
cinema to standard compositional constructions also, such as the average audience 
is considered to be ' accustomed to ', and corresponding to its conception of 
beauty. In the three photographs that follow we give shots from three German 
films. In every case the subject is the same : a young mother with her child 
(Figs. 102-104). The camera-men responsible for these shots knew only a 
single form of compositional construction for such close-ups. We can easily 
substitute the close-up of one film for another in a different film, and the spectator 



is hardly likely to notice that there has been any change. The type image is 
prepared to exact order ; it completely corresponds with the suburban and petty 
bourgeois conception of the " glowing " face of a young mother. 

In its various interpretations the theory of photogenics has taken strong root 
in the creative work of the bourgeois cinema. It is characteristic of the trends 
of that cinema, for lack of ideas is the basis of its work — it cannot have any other 
understanding of beauty. Because it endeavours from imagined immanent 
qualities of the object to justify the possibility or impossibility of that object's 
expressive construction in the cinema, it is a reactionary theory, limiting the 
creative horizons of cinema as a whole and of the camera-man in particular. 

1 80 



The invention of sound film has effected a decisive change both in the European 
nd in the American cinema industry. From the creative aspect, the first sound 
ilms were hopelessly reactionary, a return to the worst days of Pathe and Gaumont. 
hirlesque singers, operetta duets, comic dialogue and dances — such were the 
ubjects of these first sound films. In its incipient stage the sound film com- 
)letely abolished the artistic culture of the camera-man which had been created 
luring the preceding period. Shut up together with the director in a sound- 
proof box, deprived of the possibility of moving the camera, deprived even of 
he controlling right to ' turn ' (for the camera was set in motion by a motor), 
he camera-man completely renounced the artistic creative factor from his work, 
n fact, he yielded place to radio technique and the sound recordist, who was 
jiven complete charge of the process of shooting. The attraction of the sound 
ilm at first led to a general opinion that the camera-man was no longer needed 
it all. His artistic functions were handed over to the technician sound recordist, 
md the results of this attitude to the creation of an artistic work were immediately 
jeen in the quality of the production. A complicated technique took predomin- 
ance over the creative tendencies, and the camera-man found himself compelled 
:o learn the shooting process all over again. 

The invention of a sound-proof ' blimp ' completely surrounding the camera 
partially liberated the camera-man. He again entered the studio with his camera, 
md attempted, on the basis of the more complicated technique, to find new forms 
bf compositional construction for the sound-film shot. 

Meantime, in the European cinema fundamental changes were taking place 
in connection with the conquest of the European cinema market by American 
capital. After a stubborn struggle, German cinematography, which had pre- 
viously occupied the leading position, was forced to yield pride of place to the 
Americans. As far back as the appearance on the European screen of Griffith's 
I Intolerance", which first revealed the possibilities of the cinema when armed 
with all the potentialities of technique, Germany had been putting forth every 
effort to retain for herself the monopoly in European countries. 

As a kind of patriotic and commercial revenge on the aggressive tendencies 
of the Americans, the Germans produced the film " Nibelungs ", which temporarily 
restored a certain equilibrium. But with the release of " Ben Hur " and a number 
of other strong subjects, America finally confirmed her supremacy. The expendi- 
ture incurred on the production and advertisement of the film " Metropolis ", on 



Fig. 105. — Shot 
from the film 
" Metropolis ". 

which it placed its ' last shirt ', proved too much for German industry, already 
drained of its blood. " Metropolis " (Fig. 105), which according to official figures 
cost more than six million marks, finally undermined the material stability of 1 
Ufa, and with timely capital investments the Americans took charge of the, 
German cinema. 

The immediate result of the change in business leadership was the intro- 
duction of American production standards into the European cinema. 1 The 
course was taken of producing average films, made in the shortest possible time 
and with the least possible expenditure. The fine craftsmanship of the German 
camera-man school could find no application here, and the camera-men of high 
culture, such as Guido Zeber, went to work in the small cinema firms still inde- 
pendent, in order to continue the tradition of the German artistic cinema. One ! 
cannot point to a single really important phenomenon in the sphere of the European 
artistic cinema during this period. Yet what do the so-called ' standard ' methods; 
of the American camera-man, which have found wide application far beyond the 
bounds of the American cinema, really signify ? For a qualification of those 
methods we make use of the materials of a report by E. K. Tisse on the American; 
camera-man's work. 

The average American camera-man is restricted in his work by the strict 
limits of the standard. Beyond those limits he does not seek new roads, does not; 
experiment, and as the result of this attitude he exploits only those methods and 
technical possibilities which always give one and the same, certain and reliable 
effect. For instance, one rarely sees a camera-man on exteriors working with' 
a dense light-filter. So, too, when he resorts to gauzes and lenses in order to 
achieve softness, applying optical ' retouching ', he always tries to keep within 
the bounds of ' normal ' photography. The standard has become so widely 

1 Protective legislation (of Quota or Kontingent) has not so much hindered American 
business domination, as forced it to take veiled forms, and has little interrupted the ideo- 
logical advance dating from this time. — Ed. 



pplied that even in regard to close-ups and landscapes special ' types ' of ' artistic 
hotographing have been established. 

In regard to methods of organising the camera-man's work, America has its 
wn system, which is determined by the standard character of production. The 
sual standard film is shot by several camera-men, at the head of whom is the 
irector of the group, the chief camera-man. 1 All trick photography is isolated 
i a separate studio equipped with special apparatus, and is partially produced 
i the laboratory. Sometimes a division is made between those who take studio 
nd those who take exterior shots. There are also more highly specialised cate- 
ories of camera-men, such as one taking only portrait close-ups, another only 
light shots, and so on. 

While a differentiation of camera-men on the basis of their specialisation 
n various forms of cinema production is undoubtedly necessary and valuable 
wherever it is required by the specific nature of the work, any specialisation on 
arious forms of photography within the limits of a single film, if it be evoked by 
ommercial considerations only, is in our view a negative phenomenon which 
lepersonalises the camera-man, a creative worker, and transforms him into a 
echnical photographer mechanic. In any such organisation of the shooting 
irocess the integrity of the artistic production is seriously threatened so far as the 
epresentational treatment of the film is concerned. 

From the aspect of the technical factors [says E. K. Tisse] the work of the American 
amera-man is undoubtedly on a very high level, and both the organisational side and the 
technique of working up the material ought to be studied for application to our [Soviet] 

The situation is different in regard to the methods of shooting. The American 
'amera-man does not exploit one tenth part of the creative possibilities which could be 
lis on the basis of the technique at his service. He exploits every technical method, 
very resource only as purposeless trickery, to create superficial effects of " sensational " 
,hots. The American camera-man does not set himself the task of revealing the content 
>f the editing unit, of manifesting it with the aid of expressive resources, by which we 
nean the composition of the shot, lighting, etc. For him the shot is an end in itself, a 
nctorial construction, which frequently is in sharp antagonism to the general tendency. 

The standardisation of the general lighting, its reduction to ready prepared lighting 
ichemes for a sunny morning, evening, sunset, and so on, may perhaps be admitted as 
expedient within the limits of the American cinema. But attempts to standardise lighting 
py creating definite lighting schemes for long-shots, mid-shots and close-ups should 
indoubtedly be regarded with disfavour, since it leads to the introduction of stamp into 
:he work of the camera-man artist. 2 

The director G. V. Alexandrov also speaks of ' standardised methods ' of 
vork and the narrowly technical specialisation of the American camera-man in 
lis article on the organisation of American cinema production. - 

For each film the shooting group has not one camera-man but several, differentiated 
iccording to narrow specialisation. For instance, exteriors are taken by one camera-man 
expert, tricks by another, while studio sets are taken by a specialist in photography by 
artificial lighting. 

Such a system is adopted chiefly for standard production, which comprises the bulk 
3f American cinema production. Of course directors like Chaplin, Griffith or Lubitsch 
>vork outside this system. But the standardised system is predominant even in the best 
companies, releasing six or seven pictures every month. The entire shooting process is 
Droken up into separate specialities, to be taken simultaneously in various departments 
)f the production factory. 3 

1 Nowadays usually called the ' lighting expert. ' — Ed. 

2 Shorthand report of E. K. Tisse 's lecture at the conference of Moscow camera-men 
n A.R.R.K. (the Association of Russian Revolutionary Kinema), 1932. — N. 

3 G. V. Alexandrov, op. cit. — N. 



So that in American cinematography, with the exception of a few isolatec 
cases, the camera-man is outside the creative process of work on the film and i< 
a passive executant of the director's will. A similar situation prevails in present 
day European cinematography, although here isolated exceptions from tht 
general system are more frequently to be found. 

In bourgeois cinematography the camera-man's work is customarily under- 
stood as the technical process of bringing a scene to the screen with the aid o: 
photography and cinematographic technique. Such an understanding is natura 
to the bourgeois cinema, built for output, for there the only creative elemeni 
in realising the film task is the directorial construction of the picture, which has 
no connection with the camera-man's activity in carrying through the representa- 
tional treatment of the given work. Certainly in this case the camera-man's 
share consists only in photographically fixing the scene being taken. 

In such a situation the camera-man is placed outside creative art, for his 
potentialities are regarded only as a technical resource. 

But as soon as we attempt to consider the technical resources of cinemato- 
graphy from the angle of the expressive functions they fulfil, the fundamental 
viciousness of the bourgeois cinema system becomes fully apparent. 

In the production process of the bourgeois cinema the camera-man is not, 
as a rule, an independent worker, and is not creatively associated with the director. 
The entire sum of artistic elements and the creative conception in the making of 
the film are allotted to the director, while the camera-man remains a voiceless 
executant of the director's will, which holds sway even over the technical sides 
of film making. The camera-man's work is estimated solely according to the 
criterion of successful or unsuccessful photography. Even though we do occa- 
sionally meet in bourgeois cinema with a combination in which the work of the 
director and the camera-man are of equal value in their craftsmanship, none the 
less we never see them creatively associated by a joint standpoint in the making 
of an artistic production. In the majority of cases the camera-man of the bourgeois 
cinema has only a superficial idea of the ideological approach, and of the editing 
formulation of the film being taken. He makes no investigation into the directorial 
construction of the picture, is deprived of a general perspective, and is restricted 
to a formal treatment of the various shots, having no connection with the general 
scheme and the scenario task. Mechanically fixing the scene taking place before, 
the lens, he is guided in his work by certain ' inviolable ' laws of composition and 
lighting, borrowed in the best case from pictorial art, and in the worst from so- 
called art salon photography. Naturally, the estimate of his work primarily takes i 
the line of his craftsmanship in portraiture and pictorial constructions, and not) 
that of his expressive formulation of the scenario task in the shot. Even in the 
leading country of bourgeois cinematography, America, despite all his qualities 
the camera-man remains a technical executant, invited to participate only for 
the shooting period, while the full, authoritative hegemony remains with the 

What is the cause of this isolation from the creative processes of making a 
film ? What is the reason for his reduction to the level of a passive camera 
technician ? Logically the reason is primarily that in the process of its develop- 
ment the creative organism of the bourgeois cinema was built up by mechanically 
borrowing structural elements of previously existing arts, and especially those 
of the theatre. The methodology of bourgeois cinema production could not 
decide upon the role and place of the camera-man in the creative process, and, 
rejecting the principle of the organically welded creative group, was forced to 



:gard him as only an ' inevitable evil ', standing between the director and the 
:reened film. 

While the director is able to work over the material in detail during the 
reparatory period, the camera-man has to decide highly complex compositional 
isks of shot construction not on the basis of the scenario content, with which 
sually he is acquainted only superficially, but in accordance with the director's 
erbal instructions, at the actual moment of shooting. That is why in the bour- 
eois cinema we frequently meet with cases where the camera-man has exploited 
ichnical methods of shooting without taking the director's scheme for the shot 
lto account. 

As a result of this attitude, in formulating the compositional tasks of the shot 
le camera-man is guided not by its functional task, but by the aggregate of super- 
cial features of the material. In other words, he does not try to convey the idea 
nd theme expressiveness of the shot, but is satisfied with a representation of the 
hot scene in a form dictated by the formal elements of the object shot. 

In constructing the shot he takes as his starting-point not the function of the 
iven editing piece, but only the representational elements of the material, and 
ries compositionally to ' formalise ' them into something whole and complete, 
n his search for new and original methods of formalising the material as such, 
e makes an excursion into the museums of old pictorial arts, demonstrating a 
Rembrandt ' lighting effect or parading an impressionist play of light and shade. 
Naturally, effects of this kind, organically unconnected with the content of the 
hot, in other words with its editing function, are in the majority of cases only 
elf- sufficient pictorial effects. 

The book already mentioned, Rudolph Harms' " Philosophic des Films ", 
hus defines the tasks of the camera-man : 

His task is to paint the picture with the aid of the camera lens, emphasising the depth, 
solating the forms, deepening and softening the sharpness of their situation, catching the 
intervening shades between the most brilliant light and the most complete darkness, and, 
vhile doing all this, making a clear picture distinct in all details, which may be soft and 
luid, but must not be indistinct, may be sharp and emphasised, but must not be excessively 
larsh and distorted. 

This definition perfectly expresses the principle of superficial ' cinema- 
brmalisation ' which lies at the basis of the non- Soviet camera-man's work. 

Thus the present-day bourgeois camera-man, who not infrequently rises to 
he level of great formalistic perfection, with all his achievements still remains 
Dutside the framework of the specific features of cinematic expressiveness. The 
creation of shots of ' genius ', of model ' pictures ' in the film, of which the dis- 
mity with the succession cannot be overcome either by the unity of action or by 
:he unity of the images — such is the result of the bourgeois camera-man's striving 
:o achieve ' independent ' creation despite his suppression as a creative colleague. 



No profound analysis of the main creative tendencies of Soviet cinematograph} 
has yet been made. Even in regard to questions of differentiation of cinenu 
genres, only now are isolated definitions of a general kind being established, anc 
these cannot be regarded as so far sufficiently formulated. This greatly hinden. 
a ^survey of the creative trends of the camera-man's art, for representational treat-, 
ment cannot be considered in isolation from the theme and content of an artistic, 
film, and cannot be wrested from the dramatic and directorial treatment. Foi 
these reasons we have to confine ourselves only to certain general observations 
which are necessary to our final conclusions. 

During the early years of its existence, Soviet cinema, which arose on the 
ruins of the pre-revolutionary Russian cinema, was deprived of even an elemental*) 
technical basis. A few poor studios, built for filming by sunlight, a half-destroyec 
lighting equipment, imperfect accessories and antiquated cameras were what th( 
Soviet camera-men inherited from Khanzhonkov, Ermoliev, and Darikov. 

The position was still worse in regard to the ' artistic legacy ' of the pre- 
revolutionary Russian cinema which burdened the shots of the few camera-menj 

A theatrical property-set eclectic of half-dark interiors, the most trivial of 
' photographic formalisations ' of portraits of the favourite heroes of the memorablej 
11 Golden Series ", 1 absurd compositional laws and recipes — all this heavy baggage 
of rubbish crashed on to the shoulders of the Soviet cinema, which did its best 
to acquire a new thematics with the aid of this ' artistic heritage '. 

The old school of camera-men, working with a few simplest of compositional 
principles for photographic fixation of theatrical scenes, proved bankrupt in face, 
of the creative tasks of the newly born revolutionary cinema. The camera-menj 
who had taken a course of ' artistic photography ' with Pathe and Gaumont were 
far from possessing any creative understanding of their role. In the best case 
they could more or less successfully copy those models of camera-men's art in 
foreign cinematography which appeared on the Russian screen of the time. 

Passive reproductionalism, dead fixation of theatrical scenes, the absence of 
any creative tendencies characterised the work of the old school of camera-men. 
There were njo artistic films even in the non-value application of the word. 2 
Soviet cinema took its first steps in a new sphere of creation, with the news-film. 

1 A pre-revolutionary serial film thriller. — Ed. 

2 As already noted elsewhere, Soviet film terminology uses ' artistic ' film to mean non- 
news-reel or non-documentary, what we should simply call 'story-film'. — Ed. 

1 86 


the new conditions the Soviet news-film had enormous influence on the 
velopment of the camera-man's art, and became the means of education of the 
w camera-men. 

Faced with the task of direct representation of the historical events of revolu- 

mary reality, the Soviet news-reel involved the necessity that the camera-man 

ould possess an ideological striving to an end, the greatest of energy, gifts for 

eative representation, and the intelligence to adjust himself to any conditions 

shooting. Certain camera-men were transferred from story-film cinemato- 

aphy to news-reel work, and became permanent travelling companions of the 

ed Army detachments. In the foremost positions at the Polish front, in the 

rimea, with the Budienny cavalry, in the rear of the Czechoslovaks, everywhere 

iie camera-man was to be seen, actively participating in the military operations 

id the battles. He was already far from the neutral position of the bourgeois 

iws-reel reporter who seeks sensational shots amid the circumstances of a fighting 

ont. He became an active agitator and propagandist, frequently changing his 

itinera for a rifle. In these harsh circumstances of the civil war he was subjected 

b an ideological transformation, for he recognised the importance of his role as 

f oviet news-reel reporter, and distinctly understood his social obligations to 

lie millions of workers who were thirsting to see on the screen genuine cinema 

bcuments of the day-to-day events. In the process of this continuous active 

ork a new type of camera-man was created, completely unlike the ' artists of 

hotography ' of the days of Pathe and Khanzhonkov. The news-reel became 

school for the organisation of the ranks of all camera-men. It brought a vital 

Fig. 106. — Shot from the film " Strike " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 



creative content into the dead forms of the old camera-man's art, and this conten 
radically broke away from the established tradition of the pre-revolutionary school 

An essential part in the reorganisation of the ranks of camera-men wh< 
had come into news-reel work was played by the specific nature of the news-ree 
itself, which made extreme demands on the camera-man. We must conside 
in more detail the specific peculiarities of news-reel filming, since it will helj 
us considerably to explain the sources of the creative tendencies which emergec 
in the camera-man's art of the succeeding period. 

Whereas in the making of an artistic (or story) film the camera-man's tasl 
is to find a unity in the representational treatment of artistic images, and a stvl< 
which organically arises out of the content and artistic intention of the scenario 
a news-reel film confronts him with a by no means less complex task. Owing t< 
the specific conditions of making a news-reel film a number of episodes an 
entirely handled by the camera-man himself, and completely depend on his artistic 
culture and ideological approach. He has no predetermined scenario distributor 
into shots, so he is compelled directly in the process of shooting to create his owr 
plan, and, following that plan, ' editably ' to shoot each shot, preserving the genera 
narrative and compositional succession. Here, in fact, the camera-man has t< 
undertake director's functions, and the quality of the film depends to an enormous 
extent on his artistic perceptions, craftsmanship, and skill. We have alread) 
said that in editing only those shots can be reduced to an artistic unity which, ir. 
the shooting process itself, have been taken with regard to the general guiding 
editing conception. 

The so-called ' news-reel ' increases these demands still more, since here 
the camera-man's social outlook, philosophy of life and creative understanding 
of his tasks play a decisive part. 

The ' news-reel ' demands a distinct understanding of the social essence o: 
the events taking place and being shot. It necessitates a radical ideologica 
reorganisation, and the resolute rejection of the neutral position of ' objective 
reporting. In the actual technique of filming it demands extreme laconism in 
the shot, expressiveness, ability to reveal the main and essential, intelligence to 
capture and transmit in a short narrative the chief features of the event shot 
and a basic clear social approach. 

Among the camera-men who played a great part in the creation of historical 
news-reel documents we must mention first and foremost E. K. Tisse, A. A. 
Levitsky and G. V. Giber. We mention them in particular because their creative! 
road is most characteristic of the first period of development of the Soviet camera- 
man's art. 

When they went back to story cinematography A. A. Levitsky and G. V., 
Giber took with them a high level of technique, enriched by their experience of 
news-reel shooting. 

We must give special consideration to E. K. Tisse 's creative work, since; 
his name is inseparably linked with the greatest productions of Soviet cinema, 
with films of historical importance to us. In 1 913 Tisse passed out of a commercial 
marine high school and entered Graenzing's studio of painting and photography. 
In 19 1 4 he began practical work, shooting nature pictures on expeditions organised 
by the Graenzing studio (fishing in Holland, travelling through Scandinavia, etc). 

During the war he was a war correspondent camera-man, and filmed the 
military operations on various fronts, frequently in conditions of immediate danger, 
for instance in the battle for Riga and the surrender of the Iskulsk fortress. After 
the October revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Government he entered 


Fig. 107. — Shot from the film " The Battleship Potemkin " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 

Fig. 108.— Shot from the film " The Battleship Potemkin " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 



Fig. 109. — Shot from the film " The Battleship Potemkin " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 

the service of the newlv organised photo-cinema committee, N.K.P., in May 

His period of work on news-reel shooting, from 191 8 to 1923, was most 
fruitful and important in his development as a camera-man, and determined the 
specific features and methods of his work. 

During the events of those years he travelled from place to place, taking a 
great variety of films of historical importance (holiday parades, anniversaries, 
congresses, films of living conditions, of economic reconstruction, travels with 
Kalinin, and so on), in the uneasy circumstances of film work on various fronts 
(Czechoslovakian, Polish, Wrangel and Denikin), in the territories of Latvia, the 
Crimea, the Ukraine, the Volga basin, Siberia, the Caucasus, and in 1921 in the 
famine districts of the Volga. 

Work in the highly varied and difficult conditions of the early years of the 
Soviet regime developed in him, as in many other news-reel camera-men, sang- 
froid, swift orientation, and audacity. From time to time he was entrusted with 
direct military and other responsible tasks in addition to his film work. 

A gift for ' editing ' construction of news-reel subjects, and for preserving 
the unity of the ' editing ' conception in filming heterogeneous material are the 
distinguishing features of Tisse's work. From 1923 onward he took up story- 
cinematography. His ' news ' methods of work, compositional brevity and 
expressiveness of shot distinguish his work from that of the camera-men of the 
old school. When he joined the Eisenstein group he retained the positive qualities 



f the news-reel reporter, and combined them with the craftsmanship of the 
amera-man artist. In the film " Strike ", which effected a genuine revolution and 
lade a breach in the then far from outlived production traditions of the pre- 
cautionary cinema, he representationally revealed the features of the distinctive 
-end which entered Soviet cinematography with that film (Fig. 106). 

This trend confronted story-film cinema for the first time with the demand 
)r a high level of representational culture. It sought new viewpoints, it sought 
xpressive foreshortenings, it exploited dissolves and multiple exposures for the 
rganic expression of the scenario task. And all these lines of discovery are 
lseparably associated with the work of E. Tisse. 

Liberation from the. self-contained bounds of the theatricalised interior, and 
n understanding of the shot as an inseparable element of editing, were the new 
eatures which this trend introduced into the camera-man's art. 

The second film made by Eisenstein and Tisse, " The Battleship Potemkin ", 
ras a brilliant example of accomplished unity in the creative attitudes of the 
irector and camera-man, and here the results of the first creative researches 
evealed in " Strike " were consolidated (Figs. 107-109). 

We cannot stop to analyse the compositional principles underlying the con- 
tructions of all Tisse-Eisenstein's work. But it is necessary to note certain 
eatures which characterised the creative role of the camera-man in making these 

In " The Battleship Potemkin " the chief emphasis was laid on the construction 
•f linear composition, but in " The General Line " 1 (Fig. no), and especially in 

Fig. i 10.— Shot from the film "The General Line" (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 

1 Called " The Old and the New " in the U.S.S.R. and U.S.A.— Ed. 



Fig. hi. — Shot from the film " October' 
(Eduard Tisse, cam.). 

Fig. ii2.— Shot from the film " October " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 



October " (Figs. 111-112), Tisse paid especial attention to lighting composition, 
has to be emphasised that in the creative growth of almost every camera-man 
te mastery of linear-dimensional composition almost always precedes the resolu- 
Dn of light and tonal tasks. Only after mastering the methods of distributing 
ejects in the shot does the camera-man begin to work on the problems of lighting, 
id this ' lag ' of light and tonal tasks is quite normal. It is so first and foremost 
icause linear construction is the starting-point from which lighting and tonal 
mstruction takes its beginning. And only after resolving the problem of linear 
instruction in the form natural to him does the camera-man pass to the mastery 
: the following stage, to the discovery of the compositional unity between the 
near scheme, tone, and distribution of light. 

In " October " Tisse provides a partial instance of functional exploitation of 
ght, in the shots depicting Lenin speaking from the armoured car at the Finland 
dlway terminus. The directed flood of light, in continual movement, acts here 
I an independent means of emotional and functional influence on the audience 
r ig. in). The exploitation of the shifting rays of the searchlight, introduced 
to the film as an historical detail in order to effect a sharp delineation of the 
?ure of the leader, and picking out of the darkness faces burning with enthusiasm 
id readiness for struggle, acts as a light accent fulfilling a definite task. 

In the picture " The General Line ", Tisse made an attempt at direct narrative 
cploitation of lighting. A milk separator is brought into the village. The 
sasants watch and wait. ' Will it work ? ' A feeble light emphasises the gloomy 
istrustfulness of the faces. ' A trick— or prosperity ? ' The separator works, 
le first drop of milk falls from the spout. The lighting grows brighter, the faces 
e gradually lit up. A steady stream of milk begins to flow, the separator has 
istified itself. Confidence is established. Bright reflections play on the polished 
tetal parts of the machine, and are reflected on the joyously laughing faces. The 
earns pass into a powerful flood of light as the joy of the peasants is transformed 
lto a turbulent outbreak of enthusiasm. 

Such an understanding of the role played by lighting was a considerable step 
irward for the time, for it clearly demonstrated the stupidity of the old laws of 
aturalistic lighting, which demanded absolute logical justification for the direction 
f every light ray. At the same time Tisse introduced a new understanding of 
le unity of the general lighting treatment of a film. He changed his lighting 
lethods in dependence upon the function and emotional task of each separate 
:ene. And this not only did not violate the compositional unity of the produc- 
on, but, on the contrary, conduced to an expressive exposition of the content. 

As early as " Potemkin " we find him making a distinction also in the optical 
eatment of separate scenes, in accordance with a purely emotional motivation, 
'he lyrical scenes of the morning mists are given softened optical treatment, 
ut all the other scenes are given sharp, distinct optical transmission. Here also 
lere is no violation of stylistic unity, for that unity is determined by more complex 
Dnsiderations than the simple unity of technical methods. We maintain that even 
1 his earliest works Tisse revealed a genuine understanding of style as distinct 
•om an understanding of the method of shooting. 

Tisse's work is distinguished by its expressiveness in exploiting the optical 
^sources of the shot. In certain cases the expressiveness passes into the gro- 
isque, and so manifests the distinctive features of a great master who can finely 
snse a subject situation, and can link up the task of each shot with the basic idea 
f the work as a whole. 

Tisse has no tendency towards a contemplative pictorial treatment of a 




... ■ 




Fig. 113.— Shot from the film " Thunder over Mexico " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 



Fig. 114. — Shot from the film " Thunder over Mexico " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 

hot. He almost always works ' inside the mise en scene ', finding internal justifica- 
ion for the chosen viewpoint of the object. His creative work is closely bound 
lp with that of Eisenstein. His striving towards unequivocal, laconic composi- 
ions, towards sharp exposition of the character of the object filmed, towards 
.hots saturated with ideas, is to a large extent determined by Eisenstein's theoretical 
conceptions. In collective collaboration with Eisenstein, Tisse found means of 
expression organic to the scenario and directorial requirements. 

To Tisse belongs the honourable role of being one of the founders of the 
poviet camera-man's art. His latest works " Women's Weal and Women's Woe " 
.independent production in Zurich in 1930), x and " Thunder over Mexico " (made 
ointly with Eisenstein and Alexandrov), have earned great praise even from 
Western critics. Concerning the camera work in " Thunder over Mexico " we 
^•ead the following remarks in the American camera-men's professional journal : 

" Thunder over Mexico " is . . . the triumph of M. Tisse and the results that he has 
ichieved should give him unquestioned rank as one of the great cinematographers of the 
vorld . . . Tisse has achieved one of the most superbly beautiful examples of exterior 
inematography ever made. 2 

At the Ail-Union Story Conference of 1933, Professor A. F. Shorin, who 
saw the film " Storm over Mexico " in America, spoke of the camera-man's work 

1 Produced by Wechsler (Praesens Film) and directed as well as shot by Tisse. — Ed. 

2 The American Cinematographer, July 1933. — N 

J95 " 


as a brilliant achievement of Soviet camera art. " If all films were taken as 
' Storm over Mexico ' has been," he said, " I see no necessity for stereoscopic 
photography" (Figs. 113-115). 

In Tisse's work the positive influence of the Soviet news-reel is clearly 
discernible. A second line of development has its beginning in the creative 
strivings of the young camera-men who were given theoretical training in the 
Moscow Institute of Cinematography and entered production in the years 1924-25. 

Educated in the new conditions, these young men were largely free from 
the traditions of the pre-revolutionary Russian cinema. From the earliest days 
of their work they were interested in the creative expressive possibilities of the 
technique of camera-man's work, and tried to find independent methods of 
representation emancipated from the compositional canons of the pre-revolu- 
tionary Russian cinema. Possessing adequate theoretical preparation, but 
deprived of practical experience, these young men were to overcome the influence 
of the representatives of the old camera-men's school, and at the same time were 
to borrow their technical culture. 

In this struggle for functional creation, for the right to participate actively 
from beginning to end in the creation of the story-film, a considerable part was 
played by Anatoli Golovnya, one of the most outstanding camera-men in Soviet 

Golovnya's creative individuality was developed in close collective collabora- 
tion with V. I. Pudovkin, jointly with whom Golovnya made such works as 
" Mother " (Fig. 116), " The End of St. Petersburg ", " Storm over Asia ", and 
" The Deserter ". 

It is interesting to note that, as in Tisse's case, so in Golovnya's earliest 
work his main creative activities took the form of investigations into the con 
structive form of the shot, into finding the forms of linear composition. In the 
films " Mother " and " The End of St. Petersburg " this tendency to find expressive 
foreshortening, to find a viewpoint for the object compelling the spectator to 
see it anew, to perceive it anew, is clearly evident. The shot of the policeman in 
" Mother " became a ' classic ' example of one of the possible expressions of 
monumentalism by means of foreshortening construction. In " The End of St 
Petersburg " the foreshortenings of the Alexander III monument evoke an ironical 
attitude towards it. The element of caricature is manifested by the viewpoint, 
emphasised by the foreshortening, and accented by the limits of the image cut 
out by the frame. In the Stock Exchange scenes Golovnya shifts the frame limits 
in relation to the horizontal, and so achieves a stronger feeling of dynamism, based 
not only on the directly representational movement, but also on the dynamic 
quality of the compositional forms. The audacious turning round of the crowd 
the methods of optical deformation, the sharp working up of the texture, all to 
a large extent broke with and discredited the old conceptions of ' artiness ' in the 
camera-man's art, and at the same time expressively revealed the idea of the shot, 
created a new ' view of the object ', and manifested the camera-man's creative 
attitude towards it. 

While in Golovnya's earliest work the search for the linear-dimensional form of 
the shot thrust work with lighting into the background, in " Storm over Asia " the 
problem of lighting occupied the chief place. His work in this film was mainly 
directed towards manifesting the texture of the object filmed, and towards special 
lighting effects, in the creation of which his pictorial experience played no small 
part. In the attempt to convey local colour he arrived at an understanding of the 
bases of realistic treatment, as is specially manifested in the representational 





Fig. 115. — Shot from the film " Thunder over Mexico " (Eduard Tisse, cam.). 

Fig. 116. — Shot from the film " Mother " (Anatoli Golovnya, cam.). 



characterisation of individual persons and situations (the scene in the market, the 
Mongols, the Partisans). These same elements emerge to the highest degree in 
" The Deserter ", in which the search for realistic conviction brought Golovnya 
to news-reel methods of work. 

In " The Deserter " he was able to exploit the specific methods of news-reel 
exposition, raising them to the height of the needs of artistic generalisation. The 
shots of the demonstration, the presentation of the banner, preserve the con- 
vincing power of the news-film, but at the same time it is more than a simple news 
filming, for each shot reveals compositional finish, and so witnesses to special 
construction, to the confident work of a mature master. 

Anatoli Golovnya 's creative path provides a clear example of the importance 
to the camera-man of having uninterrupted creative contact with one and the 
same director. The creative association of Pudovkin and Golovnya has proved 
to be a fruitful union of two great masters, each of whom has found his own line, 
of logical development. 

Andrei Moskvin occupies a special place among Soviet camera-men. A 
number of pictorial, including expressionist, influences can be clearly traced in his 
work. Creatively associated with the directors G. Kozintsev and L. Trauberg, 
he has together with them made a protracted evolution from the extreme expres- 
sionism of the representational treatment in " Soldier's Coat " to the realistic 
tendencies manifested in his work in the picture "Alone". 

Andrei Moskvin is a talented camera-man with a great creative range. His, 
work cannot be estimated from the standpoint of superficial, purely imitational 
tendencies. In " Soldier's Coat " we find shots constructed on schematic camera- 
angles, on closed space, on non-natural methods of lighting, but these are by 
no means to be regarded as superficial imitation of the tricks of expressionism. 
The representational treatment in this film was undoubtedly conditioned by 
Moskvin's own creative approach, which was organically bound up with the 
creative tendencies of the director's group F.E.K.S. 

In the brochure " Eccentricism " published in 1922 is the following declaration 
of the F.E.K.S. group, which helps considerably to elucidate the sources of the 
creative attitude of this group as a whole, and of the camera-man Moskvin in 


Life demands art 

hyperbolically coarse, scratching, beating at the nerves, openly utilitarian, mechanically 
exact, instantaneous, swift. 

Otherwise they hear not, see not, stop not. 
All this in sum is equal to : the art of the XXth century, the art of 1922, the art of 
the last second. 


Parade allez ! 

In words — chansonette, Pinkerton, the snout of the auctioneer, the invective of the 


In pictorial art — the circus poster, the wrapper of the boulevard novel, in music — 

the Jazz-band (the negro orchestra rumpus). 

In ballet — the American tap dance. 

In the theatre — the music hall, cinema, theme song, boxing. 

The old pictorial art has died of itself, the eccentric poster will annihilate 


i. The boulevardisation of all forms of yesterday's pictorial art. Cubism — 
futurism — expressionism through the filter : laconism — precision — unexpectedness. 



2. The maximum exploitation of the forms of cheap prints, posters, wrappers, street 
publications, advertisements, type founts, labels. 

3. The eccentric poster all see — all know ! 

Exploitation of pictorial methods for the purpose of agitation and propaganda. The 
latest inventions, novelties, fashions. 

4. The stimulation of the genre of lightning-artists. 
Sketches, caricatures. . . . 

5. Study of locomotives, motor-cars, steamships, motors, mechanisms. 

We shall not stop to elucidate the social roots of the early creative attitudes 
»f the F.E.K.S. group, as it is outside our subject. Sufficient to note the sharp 
nanifestation of these attitudes in the representational treatment of " Soldier's 
:oat " and, in part, of the film " C.B.D ". (Fig. 117). 

The truest estimate of Moskvin's creative tendencies is to be obtained by 
considering them in the light of the valuable struggle against vulgar cinemato- 
graphic naturalism, the struggle for the cinema shot to achieve genuine artistic 
expressiveness, which the F.E.K.S. group waged in regard to cinematography 
or a number of years. 

In " Soldier's Coat " Moskvin worked with extraordinarily expressive and 
schematically representational methods ; these, though characterised by the utter 
>areness of extreme expressionism were, strictly speaking, a manifestation of the 
lame process of break with established naturalistic canons which is clearly revealed 
n the work of Golovnya and Tisse. But from the beginning Moskvin went his 
>wn way, deliberately eliminating from the shot all that might even distantly 

Fig. 117. — Shot from the film " Soldier's Coat" (Andrei Moskvin, cam.). 



Fig. 118. — Shot from the film " New 
Babylon " (Andrei Moskvin, cam.). 

Fig. 119. — Shot from the film 

New Babylon 

(Andrei Moskvin, cam.). 


icall the former pictorial qualities of pre-revolutionary art-photography. But in 
C.B.D. ", and still more in " New Babylon ", the considerable evolution the group 
ad made is evident. From complete rejection the significance of the artistic 
;gacy of pictorial art in representational treatment of the film, he turned to thorough 
xploitation of pictorial experience, and particularly set himself to master various 
lethods of impressionist lighting treatment. 

When we came to work in the Soviet cinema [said the director, G. M. Kozintsev, 
1 a speech at a conference of Leningrad camera-men], we found the Leningrad cinema 
actory full of historical pictures taken on a naively naturalistic principle. 

All the generals, Tsars, soldiers, etc., were shot primarily in order to emphasise the 
roducts of the costume department of which the factory was so proud. They shot the 
ostumes, with the actors inside them. That was the basic attitude of the time. 

Now we wanted primarily to replace this parade of historical costumes in the surface 
>arts of the films by a feeling of the epoch, in other words purposively to replace it with 
general style, and not the naturalism of details. From the camera-man's viewpoint we 
vere interested in obtaining photography that should be extremely picturesque. We 
vanted to get away as far as possible from the external form of the costume, we wanted 
o convey to the audience the atmosphere of the epoch. It was on this basis that we made 
[ Soldier's Coat ", " C.B.D. ", and " New Babylon ". We spent a good deal of time over 
he photography. The false aspect of the costumes, the feeling of costumed, unreal 
>eople began to creep into the foreground. To dispose of this we began to apply softening 
enses. Moskvin even photographed long-shots with portrait lenses. 

In planning those tasks which confronted us, we succeeded in getting rid of ' cos- 
umery ' and in revealing the atmosphere of the epoch. At once spots appeared instead 
)f lines. The spot became the basic element at the expense of the graphic. The graphic 
element was eliminated entirely. 

^■. ■■ :'"" 

Fig. 120. — Shot from the film " The Youth of Maxim " (Andrei Moskvin, cam.). 



This is essentially the same process which is to be observed in pictorial art, when the, 
impressionists' pictures first appeared to replace the studies in the nude that filled the 
exhibitions. The impressionists exhibited not so much the object which was the main 
one in the particular picture, as the atmosphere around that object. And this Moskvin; 
introduced into photography. Our chief error consisted in the fact that we sought tor 
style in the pictorial material of the given epoch, and not as the result of an analysis of the 
reality of that epoch. This is a very serious problem, one which affects the general problems 
of cinematography. But I wish here to concentrate attention only on the problem of 

Hence arose our over-estimate of the pictorial legacy, hence all the traditions, all the 
knowledge which we could gain from the pictorial arts hung, perhaps as a very light, but 
later as a very heavy burden around the neck of our camera art. 1 

This transition to exploitation of pictorial experience, with the aid of which 
the camera-man endeavoured to manifest the character of the epoch, partially 
determined the representational treatment of the film " New Babylon ", which in 
respect to its purely formal achievements is one of the most perfect examples of 
the camera-man's art (Figs. 118, 119). 

In the film " Alone ", and in Moskvin's latest work, " The Youth of Maxim ", 
a transition to new creative positions on the part of the camera-man is to be dis- 
cerned. These films provide examples of deeper work on natural material, on 
manifesting the characteristics of the actor's image. They reveal his endeavour 
to make the dramaturgy of the scenario and the study of the real setting in which 
the action of the film develops the starting-point in his work. 

These features are especially manifested in the later of these two works of 
Moskvin, "The Youth of Maxim", where they receive their most advanced 
development. (Fig. 120.) 

Moskvin's creative road and the course of his evolution are characteristic of 
the main motive tendencies in the Soviet camera-man's art. They are a departure 
from the influence of Western cinematography, a departure from the mechanical 
imitation of pictorial art, towards the study of living reality and the definite cir- 
cumstances and style of the epoch finding reflection in the given film. 

The same tendencies are to be noted in the work of the camera-man I. Martov, 
in the films " Golden Mountains " and " Counterplan ". These are particularly 
interesting from the aspect of creative movements in the camera-man's work. 
Martov is trying to approximate to a realistic transmission of the images of the 
film without superficial aestheticisation and ' decorative formulation ' of individual 
shots. The heightened tone in " Counterplan ", the harsh optical treatment, the 
absence of compositional pretentiousness and false stylisation are all manifestations 
of the latest tendencies in the camera-man's art (Figs. 121, 122). 

In 1927-8 a school of camera-men emerged in the Ukraine which found 
outstanding expression in the works of the great master A. Dovzhenko. 

This school is one which also has its basis in pictorial tendencies, especially 
strongly manifested in cinematographic ' paysages '. In the films " Arsenal ", 
" Earth ", and " Ivan " the light-plastic treatment of the material is the predominant 
one, which still further witnesses to the pictorial resources of this tendency. 

The films of the most recent period, the work of Feldman, L. Kosmatov, 
V. Gordanov, V. Pronin, Shelenkov, A. Galperin, A. Kaltsaty, M. Gindin, B. 
Volchek and many others mark the general growth of artistic culture among the 
ranks of the camera-men. They are no longer content with reproduction of 
individual pictorial compositions and the methods of pictorial art ; they are 
consciously applying all that can help them expressively to reveal the content 

1 Shorthand report of the Leningrad Conference of Cinema Camera-men, 1933. 



Fig. 121. — Shot from the film " Counterplan " (I. Martov, cam.). 

Fig. 122. — Shot from the film " Counterplan " (I. Martov, cam.). 



Fig. 123. — Shot from the film " The Conveyor of Death " (M. Gindin, cam.). 

Fig. 124. — Shot from the film " The Conveyor of Death " (M. Gindin, cam.). 



ig. 125. — Shot from the film 
"The Conveyor of Death " 
(M. Gindin, cam,). 

r iG. 126. — Shot from the film 
" The Conveyor of Death " 
(M. Gindin, cam.). 

Df the shot, all that can serve as material for artistic generalisations by means of 
mtra-shot composition. 

In the " Conveyor of Death " Gindin has taken as basis a study of the German 
revolutionary artists Gross, Zille, Kollwitz and others, and a detailed acquaintance 
with German documentary photography, and on that basis has made shots note- 
worthy for their saturation with ideas and their logical composition. What 
would there appear to be in common between the documentary photographs of 
Kurt Tukholsky or the Berlin ' A.I.Z.' and the camera-man's tasks in the film 
" Conveyor of Death " ? Yet study of this material and its intelligent exploitation 
have aided Gindin in the compositions of this film to catch and recreate the 
characteristic features of Berlin working-class districts, the circumstances of the 
workers' quarters, etc. Here we undoubtedly have a sound method of exploiting 
documentary material — a method witnessing to the camera-man's correct under- 
standing of his creative tasks (Figs. 123-127). 



Fig. 127. — Shot from the 
film " The Conveyor of 
Death " (M. Gindin, 

If you study the various shots taken by Gindin in "Conveyor of Death" 
you become convinced of his correct understanding of the principle of editing 
composition. Take in their editing context the close-up of the Fascist and the 
close-ups of the hungry workers, for example. Every shot individually reveals 
independent pe r fection of finish, while preserving the distinguishing features 
of the unit, the link of the editing composition. The theme of ' Fascism ', clearly 
expressed by the foreshortened representation of the Fascist in close-up, gives 
this shot a functional singleness of content, but this same theme is developed 
further in the compositional construction of the shot with the four Fascist standard- 
bearers and in the mass scenes of the Fascist demonstration. 

Within the limits of the same compositional theme, Gindin maintains the same 
foreshortenings throughout the entire episode, which he treats satirically. 

The ' hungry ' are taken in a different construction, in harsh optical treat- 
ment and a news-reel style. The compositional theme is again maintained 
throughout the entire editing episode. 

To show the yard in which the barrel-organ man is playing, Gindin finds 
a viewpoint which transforms it into a genuine stone cul-de-sac. And in con- 
sequence the lyrical motive at the basis of this scene is demonstrated all the more 

Owing to such thorough compositional treatment, linked up with demon- 
stration of the social element, in Gindin's work the shot acquires a perfection of 
finish allowing only one functional interpretation of the subject, and this circum- 
stance actively directs the spectator's perception along the road required by the 

In the shots of the suicide of the workers' family, Gindin uses an original 
method of lighting which, in combination with the dead statics of the symmetrically 
distributed figures, heightens the expressiveness of this scene. The dark room 
with bright patches of sunlight penetrating through closed shutters, the softly 
lit, almost silhouetted figure in the foreground give a completely different char- 
acter to the perception, and operate more convincingly than the traditional manner 
of presenting terrible scenes in a completely darkened interior. Obviously it is 
not in the least a question of whether there is bright light on the face or not, but 
of how the light ray is functionally justified and exploited. 



The splendid and moving shots of the " Conveyor of Death " [said Bela Balasz, in his 
review of this film] are like the flaming, feverish dream of a naive man, who has heard some- 
thing of this reality. But that dream is represented with strong cinematic fantasy, with 
cinematic temperament. The camera-man M. Gindin is a great master. 

An interesting example of the way in which the expressive possibilities of 
pictorial treatment of the shot can be exploited is given in D. Feldman's latest 
film, " Petersburg Nights ". For this film, which suffers from a number of drama- 
turgic defects, pictorial treatment was chosen by the camera-man as the only sound 
way of resolving the representational tasks : a way conditioned by the scenario 
and the directorial prerequisites. 

In our opinion the picture suffers from two organic defects, which arise out 
of the actual scenario of the film. These are : a weakening of the dramaturgic 
core of the scenario, and the protracted development of the narrative. The 
immediate result of the vicious quality of the scenario construction is a lack of 
clarity in the editing composition as a whole, which hinders the dynamic develop- 
ment of the narrative, and therefore the dynamism of the compositional construc- 
tion of the individual shots. Static, contemplative elements predominate in the 
picture, which fact naturally drives the camera-man also along the road of illustra- 
tive exposition of the scenario content, and not its dynamic revelation, which would 
be a genuinely cinematographic method of resolving the task. 

Such clashes between the camera-man and the scenario requirements, especi- 
ally when historical films are in question, usually lead either to a reproduction 
fixation of the filmed object, or to a purely formalistic decision based on the 
external, decorative picturesqueness of the various shots. In the first case the 
camera-man's primitive ' photographism ' creates the finished ' living photo- 
graphy ' of a theatrical staging of the scenario. In the second case we get ' shots 
of genius ', formulated in accordance with the principle of mechanical imitation 
of models drawn from pictorial art. 

Taking into account the thematic requirements of the scenario of " Peters- 
burg Nights " and the specific character of the film, which is not without elements 
of romanticism, Feldman chose pictorial treatment. And in our opinion he 
committed no error. The scenario and the directorial treatment of the film 
afford the camera-man no justification for transferring the centre of gravity of 
the composition to the dynamics of intra-shot action, for the development of the 
narrative takes indirectly parallel roads, not infrequently shifting to the material 
of the background or to auditory clues. The active opening, which determines 
the activity of the chief hero, is at times completely overshadowed by the detail 
and interplay of secondary situations. But a harsh, linear optical transmission 
of the object always directs the perception to the active factor of the composi- 
tional dynamics. Obviously Feldman's only correct way of resolving the problem, 
i therefore, was to exploit the possibilities of pictorial treatment, which would 
, conduce to a generalised perception of the shot, and so would not disclose the 
definite passivity of the directorial treatment (Fig. 128). 

With Feldman a general softening of the optical design, which demands 
tremendous creative flair and tact in its execution, never figures as a haphazard 
pictorial effect. Even a thoroughly hard-bitten spectator is scarcely likely to 
note anywhere any deliberate quality in the details compositionally introduced 
into the shot, or a strained character in the foreshortening, so plastic, and 
so imperceptibly constructed are the transitions from the main object to the 
surrounding background. Feldman also carries out his own lighting schemes 
to correspond with the optical transmission of the design of the shot. He 



Fig. 128. — Shot from the film " Petersburg Nights " (Dmitri Feldman, cam.). 

almost never uses contoural lighting ; the steroscopic quality of the shot is 
achieved not by a harsh isolation of the light contour, but by a softened transition 
from one tone to another. This, for instance, is the way he has taken almost 
all the close-ups in the picture, the relief quality of which is achieved exclusively 
by lowering or heightening the tone of the background, while the mid-shots and 
close-ups reveal no tonal distinction from the long-shots. At the same time the 
softening of the optical design, which is almost always associated with loss of 
detail in the working up of the texture, never passes beyond the limits of the 
necessary distinct visibility. An intelligent exploitation of lighting enables one 
always to see clearly on the screen the highly characteristic texture of silk, granite, 
and marble, or the very characteristic texture of the actors' faces. 

We have already remarked that the absence of a definite editing composition 
worked out beforehand deprives the camera-man's work of its main and most 
valuable quality : its logical and true succession in the transition from one com- 
positional form of shot to another. As an example of this in " Petersburg Nights I 
we may mention the episode of the parade, in which individual shots, filmed 
dynamically by the camera-man, did not give the necessary effect of dynamic 
growth when edited. For this reason the chief influence of the entire scene passed 
to the sound treatment, which, so to speak, bore the entire parade on its shoulders. 
The absence of general editing composition reacted to the same extent on the 
final scene of the convict transport, in which the main line of rhythm and tempo 
potentially introduced by the camera-man was completely lost during editing. 
Here the camera-man was faced objectively with the necessity of shooting individual 



editing pieces without being given a clear compositional perspective, and this 
undoubtedly reacted on the efficacy of the scenes mentioned. 

While during the early years of development of the Soviet camera-man's 
art his creative efforts tended mainly in the direction of seeking representational 
methods, it is now possible to speak of his active work on the art-images of the 
jfilm as a whole, and here he most closely approaches a creative unity with the 

From the aspect of this transition to new creative positions the ' first swallow * 
was the film " Counterplan ", (camera-men, I. Martov, A. Ginsburg and V. Rapo- 
port) and then Gordanov's work in the film " The Storm ". The representational 
treatment of " Counterplan " is built up of light, optimistic tones. The portrait 
close-ups are all treated realistically, without sharp abstract foreshortening and 
compositional pretentiousness. The camera-men's work is directed primarily 
towards manifesting the character of the actor's image. The same tendency is 
at the basis of the camera-man's treatment in " The Storm ". 

r lG. 129. — Shot from the film 
" Boule-de-Suif " (B. Vol- 
chek, cam.). 

'IG. 130. — Shot from the film 
" Boule-de-Suif " (B. Vol- 
chek, cam.). 



The work of the camera-man B. Volchek is of great importance because of 
his original resolution of the representational treatment of an historical film. 

In the picture " Boule-de-Suif " he does not confine himself to the unity 
of compositional treatment of the film. In regard to lighting and optical treat- 
ment, foreshortening and speeds, every image of the film has its own individual 
representational characteristic. From this aspect the picture " Boule-de-Suif " 
repays the most attentive study, as it is characteristic of the new tendencies in the 
Soviet camera-man's art. B. Volchek has not only been able to resolve the task 
of camera-man's construction of an historical film stylistically correctly, but has 
indicated new roads in regard to the camera-man's work on the actor's image. 
And this, in our view, is the most valuable quality of his work (Figs. 129-130). 

It is characteristic of the general growth of the ranks of camera-men that 
intensified attention is being paid to work on building up the theoretical bases 
of the camera-man's art. In 1934 a separate chair for the camera-man's craft 
was set up by the Supreme State Institute for Cinematography (V.G.I.K.). 

The most recent period in Soviet cinematography has been characteristic ! 
not only for the growth in camera-men's creative activity, but also for their 
considerable advance towards technical perfection. They are now mastering the 
most novel methods of filming technique. In this regard we must refer to N. 
Renkov's interesting work on the film " New Gulliver ". 

Renkov is perhaps the only camera-man who has successfully combined the 
qualities of a graphic artist with those of a brilliant technician with an exceptional 
gift for creative representation. The film " New Gulliver "is a genuine mine of 
technical inventions, and a true school for complex filming technique. Un- 
doubtedly more than one generation of young camera-men will learn from the 
study of this film, which surpasses the finest achievements of western composite- 
shot puppet-film technique. 

Before bringing our very general and schematic survey to an end, we 
consider it necessary to emphasise once more the main tendencies in the develop- 
ment of Soviet camera-man's art. 

During the first period, to which belong the early works of Tisse, Golovnya, 
Moskvin and others, the development took chiefly the line of searching for new 
representational methods of linear construction of the shot. The new forms, 
which arose partly under the influence of the news-reel film, partly under that of 
Western cinematography, were in contradistinction to the frozen traditions of 
the pre-revolutionary school of camera-men. They were to a large extent con- 
structivist tendencies, which not infrequently drove the camera-men to the other 
extreme, to formalistic absorption with self-sufficient linear-dimensional construc- 
tions. In isolated cases this formalistic absorption with constructivist construc- 
tions of the shot led to a severance between the functional task of the shot and its 
compositional resolution. 

From compositional constructivism, which was of positive importance in the 
sense of recognising the varied representational possibilities of linear-dimensional 
composition and the accumulation of technological experience, the camera-men 
passed to assimilation of the artistic legacy of pictorial art. And here also we 
had a temporary period of extreme over-estimation of the importance of pictorial 
art in the camera-man's art. 

On the basis of absorption with the formalistic problems of pictorial art, and 
especially of impressionist pictures, films were created in which individual shots 
presented finished perfect models of linear and lighting composition. But the 
films as a whole lost their compositional unity, and became a peculiar form of 



3hoto-montage assembly of shots. These films are static on the whole, and the 
ictor's image is abstract and statuesque (Figs. 1 31-134). 

And only in the most recent period of the Soviet camera-man's art are 
considerable movements clearly indicated, movements which are conditioned by 
the ideological and artistic growth of the creative ranks of the Soviet cinema. 
The camera-man is beginning to overcome the closer limits of the ' specific 
properties of the cinema camera ', is seeking close creative unity with the director, 
is becoming an active participant in all the creative process of work on the film. 
He is mastering methods of deeper work on the emotional and ideological expres- 
siveness of the cinema image, realising it with all the fullness of the expressive 
resources of the cinema. 

The principle of a collective group organically welded on the basis of a unity 
of creative approach is given general recognition in the Soviet cinematographic 
system. The creative group is the basic production link of the Soviet cinema 
factories. From experience of the work of Eisenstein-Tisse, Pudovkin-Golovnya, 
Trauberg-Kozintsev-Moskvin, Kuleshov-Kuznetsov and many others we can see 
how important is the creative group in the making of a highly artistic cinema 
production. The Soviet camera-man is given unchallenged recognition as a 
creative worker in cinematography ; his role and importance in the creative process 
are noted by the most outstanding directors of the Soviet cinema. 

The ideas of the director, in his work on making expressive the film image [says 
Pudovkin], only receive concrete embodiment when the technical knowledge and the 
creative inventive faculty of the camera-man go hand in hand, or, in other words, when 
the camera-man is an organic member of the team and takes part in the creation of the 
film from beginning to end. 1 

This opinion of Pudovkin, however, by no means completely indicates the 
camera-man's creative role in the making of an artistic production. The following 
passages are from the report of a lecture by Eisenstein at the director's faculty 
of the Moscow Institute of Cinematography. The lecture was devoted to the 
question of the inter-relationship between the various members of the creative 

Furious discussions are always arising around the question whether the camera- 
man's work can be regarded as an art, and whether it is creative. 

As a rule the camera-man's creative role is denied whenever the cinematographic 
production has been made without previous compositional treatment of the editing and 
the shot. This occurs in all cases where production is restricted merely to a subject 
anecdotal exposition of the plot without taking into expressive account all the other elements 
which compose the aggregate of the artistic cinematographic production. Instead of this, 
such a production acquires only quotation marks, being known as a ' production.' It is 
quite obvious that in such cases doubt must also arise as to the extent to which the director's 
work can be regarded as creative. Unfortunately, it must be said that this is perfectly 
applicable to the great majority of the so-called average productions. When the director 
takes up such a position in regard to the light-plastic aspect of the filmed representation, 
in point of fact he does not even need a camera-man. All he needs is a straightforward 
technical photographer. But one doubts whether there is a single director who desires 
to take up such a position. And if he is trying to get away from that position, or avoid 
! marking time, and is seeking instead to deepen and extend his craftsmanship in all spheres 
of cinematic representation, endeavouring to draw nearer to the fullness of cinemato- 
graphic artistic production, he finds that he must adopt an estimate of the camera-man as 
first and foremost a creative individual and a fundamental creative colleague. And only 

1 V. Pudovkin, Film Director and Film Material , Moscow, 1926. — N. 
Translated by I. M. in Film Technique, Newnes, 1933. — Ed. 



Fig. 131. — Shot from the film " The Ghost that Never Returns " (Dmitri Feldman, cam.). 

Fig. 132. — Shot from the film " The Ghost that Never Returns " (Dmitri Feldman, cam.). 



I t t - 

Fig. 133. — Shot from the film " The Ghost that Never Returns " (Dmitri Feldman, cam.). 

Fig. 134. — Shot from the film " The Ghost that Never Returns " (Dmitri Feldman, cam.). 



in conscious and collective co-operation with the camera-man artist will he succeed in 
resolving this task. 

Orientation in the problems of linear, lighting, and tonal composition demands that 
the creative group shall together possess an enormous visual-representational culture. 
And this demand is made first and foremost of the camera-man, since on him is laid the 
task of plastically realising the compositional intention. 

And these considerations, primarily, are the basis on which we must make any analysis 
and estimate of the camera-man's craftsmanship, which once for all has outlived the idiotic 
formulation of such estimates summed up in the traditional phrase of purblind criticism : 
clear photography. . . . 

We maintain that, in this definition of the camera-man's role, Eisenstein 
shows the fullest and soundest appreciation of the creative relationships between 
the director and the camera-man. Wherever the problem of the expressiveness 
of a film as an artistic production is raised to the height of a principle, wherever 
the problems of composition are resolved on the basis of a recognised creative 
approach, there the role of the camera-man as an artist increases incommensurably. 
But whenever the director does not rise above the level of an educated craftsman, 
the camera-man is compelled either to take the course of a self-sufficient formalistic 
resolution of the representational treatment of the film, or to confine himself to 
the role of passive technical photographer. 

But if we are concerned with ensuring that a film shall be of the highest 
cinematographic art value; then we must regard the camera-man as a close creative 
collaborator with the director, as a master with full rights in his own sphere, 
who with the aid of his specific representational resources realises the single 
artistic function and content of the film. 




In previous chapters we have considered the elements of the compositional 
construction of the shot ; the change of set-up, change of camera-angle, fore- 
shortening, lighting, optical design, margin or frame of the image, tone, and tempo 
of shooting in their significance for the expressiveness of the screen image. We 
have also established that the application of each of these compositional elements 
is dependent on the scenario and directorial requirements. Finally, we have come 
to certain conclusions as to the mutual interdependence of the editing composition 
of the film as a whole and the composition of the individual shot as an element of 
creative production. 

When considering the tasks of composition of the shot in their organic con- 
nection with the theme and content of the film, we defined composition as the 
method of creatively organising the material, the method which enables us thor- 
oughly to reveal and demonstrate the ideal significance of the art-images created. 

These basic assumptions lead us to an understanding and confirmation of 
the creative role of the camera-man, who, with the representational resources of 
cinema technique, realises the compositional purpose of the film. For us the 
choice of viewpoint, foreshortening, camera-angle and so on ceases to be a 
technical process, and becomes a creative process from the moment when 
the camera-man begins to consider the object to be shot in association with the 
ideological and thematic task of the scenario, and through the specific features 
of the compositional form expresses his creative attitude towards the ideological 
and aesthetic compositions and images of the given film. 

In various theoretical works on problems of film art, and particularly in the 
works of Boltyansky {Culture of the Camera-man) and Pudovkin (Film Director 
and Film Material) x the authors, while recognising the camera-man's creative 
role, at the same time assume that all that is required of him is a certain level of 
visual culture. In their view a developed visual culture, understood as an 
innate or acquired quality with corresponding training, ensures all the necessary 
conditions for realising the representational treatment of the film. 

When such is the approach to the analysis of the creative factors in the 
camera-man's work, the existing differences in representational treatment of 
individual films shot by various camera-men are usually explained as being due 
to the individual peculiarities of visual culture, in other words to the individual 
' manner of seeing ', peculiar to each of these camera-men. 

1 See note p. an. — Ed. 


But are the reasons for the difference in perception and compositional treat- 
ment of the filmed material to be sought solely in the peculiarities of visual culture ( its 
of this or that camera-man ? 

We maintain that visual culture, understood only as a biological, innate 
quality, or even as a quality developed by corresponding training, cannot be 
regarded as the sole factor in determining the stylistic differences in camera-men's jo 
art. In reality the camera-man's creation, connoted by the simple term ' visual 
culture ', is much more complex than appears at first sight. 

By the experience of the work of those camera-men in whom we find intelligent it, 
creation, i.e. creation pre-supposing deliberate exploitation of the expressive 
resources and methods of cinema technique, we can trace the process of formation 
of visual ideas which afterwards are realised in the compositional construction 
of the shot. In the process of analysing the scenario, and penetrating into its 
content, the camera-man arrives at an understanding of the idea of the work 
and the principle of its construction. Then, coming into contact with the con- 
crete material, in other words, with the various objects to be filmed, he organises 
that material, subjecting it to the idea of the work. Mentally comparing his idea 
of the image to be filmed with the representation he sees through the camera, he 
logically modifies the set-up, camera-angle, foreshortening, lighting and so on, < 
until the representation seen through the camera approximates to his idea of the 
given image. Such should be the creative process of constructing a shot, and 
in the majority of cases the guiding element for the camera-man is the preliminary i 
idea which arises from his analysis of the production scenario. 

The mental ideas arising from analysis of the scenario and study of the 
concrete material of the film, like the subsequent associations accompanying all 
the stages of embodiment of the visual image, are the basic starting-points for the 
camera-man. His visual culture, understanding these words in their narrow 
sense, serves only as a condition enabling him to master the material and realise 
the conceived composition. 

In order to represent an object in a shot the camera-man must first and 
foremost not only know the object itself, but must conceive it, must give it one 
or another treatment, must connect one or another group of associations with the 
exposition of that object. To choose the set-up for the object involves making 
a definite estimate of that object. Here the camera-man's creative attitude to the 
exposition of the object and the manifestation of its typical features and peculiarities 
of texture is revealed. It can be said with confidence that, if in the course of ; 
shooting the object the camera-man has found two set-ups, and both seem equally 
acceptable to him, then in reality he has not found the right set-up at all ; he 
does not yet possess a clear idea of the conceived picture. In the absence of such 
an idea ' visual culture ' will not save him from lack of clarity and the confusion 
of a fortuitously composed shot. 

For me [says Henri-Matisse in his Notes of a Painter] all is in the conception — I must 
have a clear idea of the whole composition from the very beginning. I could mention the 
name of a great sculptor who produces some admirable pieces, but for him a composition 
is nothing but the grouping of fragments, and the result is a confusion of expression. Look 
instead at one of Cezanne's pictures ; all is so well arranged in them that no matter how 
many figures are represented and no matter at what distance you stand, you will always 
be able to distinguish each figure clearly and you will always know which limb belongs 
to which body. 

If there is considerable order and clarity in a picture, it means that that order and 
clarity has existed in the mind of the artist from the very beginning, or that he has recog- 
nised their necessity. 



The presence of a single conception clearly and thoroughly thought out, the 
resence of a profound understanding of the whole work, a genuine perception 
if the living actual images reproduced on the screen, is an absolute necessity to 
he camera-man. A cinematograph product, composed of many individual shots, 
•nly acquires unity when the individual shots composing it have been representa- 
ionally resolved on the lines of a single directing conception, within the limits 
>f a system with a single style. In cinematic production the conception of com- 
•osition is immeasurably more complex than it is in the static product of pictorial 
rt, for it includes not only dynamism, but the time category, which establishes 
ts own special laws of perception of the image. Simple grouping of objects, 
nsuring good visibility and easy recognition on the screen, can be realised by 
he camera-man even though he has only a superficial acquaintance with the 
naterial of the scenario. But genuine artistry is achieved only provided he has 
. profound understanding of the idea and the images of the film being made. 
So that in the process of determining the representational treatment of the 
ilm a specific idea of the given conception and images of the film is of decisive 
mportance for the camera-man. But, as an artist, he is the product and expres- 
ion of a definite social system. Just as much as the scenario writer and director, 
le possesses a definite attitude to the reality surrounding him, a definite philosophy, 
vhich sets its imprint on his creation. Consequently, if he be a true artist, by no 
neans any conception, by no means any dramaturgic and directorial treatment 
)f the given images can be acceptable to him. If his attitude to reality, his 
)hilosophy, his tastes and artistic predilections be in sharp antagonism to those 
)f the dramatist and director he will never create a highly artistic and stylistically 
inified art product. That is why a close approach between the creative methods 
)f the director and the camera-man is one of the most important and necessary 
conditions of the creative group's fruitful work in the cinema. 
What is creative method and style in the camera-man's art ? 
In critical analyses of his work one frequently comes across superficial 
lefinitions of his style as the unity of the technical methods applied in snooting, 
if, suppose, the camera-man shoot all his pictures with soft- focus lenses, not infre- 
quently the conclusion is drawn directly from this that it is the characteristic 
)f an impressionist treatment of the film. 

Moreover, not infrequently many camera-men themselves strive mechanically 
I preserve a kind of unity in choice of representational resources, assuming that 
:hus they create their ■ style ', which determines their creative features. In the 
Western cinema such ' style ', based on a mechanically worked out representational 
nethod, is usually regarded as a positive quality. Independently of the theme 
ind content of the film, independently of its ideological tendencies, the camera- 
nan invariably retains his manner of snooting worked qut once for all, his ' style ' 
)f softened or sharp optical treatment. He does not penetrate into the content 
)f the scenario, he does not trouble to analyse the images of the film, but works 
n his ' style ', which is his professional pride. 

In the average European or American film, constructed on the simple cine- 
natographic exposition of the subject, it is difficult to notice any antagonism 
>etween the directorial and the representational treatment, simply because the 
epresentational composition of such films is generally at a very primitive level, 
kit in films of higher artistic quality this distinguishing characteristic of Western 
exponents of the camera-man's art is very noticeable. 

Such a method of ' superficial formulation ' of a film irrespective of any 
:reative analysis of the scenario is a by no means fortuitous phenomenon in 



bourgeois cinematography. And just as little fortuitous is the degradation o: 
the creative group in the system of bourgeois film production. The formalism 
of the camera-man artist who is satisfied with superficial formalisation of the shot 
without attempting to analyse its content and thus to arrive at an organic, ideologic- 
ally expressive construction, is to some extent explained by the social essence 
of the foreign cinema. The bourgeois art of the ruling class is infected with the 
spirit of ideological emasculation and decadence which characterises the epoch 
of decaying capitalism. Consequently the story cinema also, which in its role 
as entertainment is called upon to mask the unavoidable contradictions of the 
bourgeois system, cannot direct the cinematographer's creative tendencies along 
the road of demonstrating the filmed content in all its variety. All that remains 
to it is superficial pictoriality, and to conceal the intrinsic ideological poverty 
of its production under formalistic elucidation. With rare exceptions the artistic 
culture of the bourgeois camera-man is thus determined by his degree of per- 
fection and craftsmanship in the purely superficial * formalisation of the shot '. 
This aesthetic mannerism of superficial representational formalisation of the shot 
is one of the symptoms of the disintegration of style characterising present-day 
bourgeois art as a whole. 

In camera-man's art genuine style is not determined merely by a simple 
unity of technical methods of shooting, since the representational treatment of 
the film cannot be considered in isolation from the theme and content of the 
artistic production, cannot be parted from the dramaturgical and directorial 
treatment. The picture might be shot from beginning to end with sharp focus 
lenses, so revealing the tiniest detail. And yet that might not mean that the film 
had been taken realistically. 

In camera-man's art, as in other spheres of artistic creation, the conception 
of style is determined by a considerably more involved complex than the applica- 
tion of representational resources homogeneous in character. If the camera-man 
artist realises the art-images in one or another representational composition, that 
composition bears the imprint of his philosophy to the same extent that the 
entire film reflects the ideology and social attitude of the dramaturgist and director. , 
The style of his work is determined by his understanding of the main ideas of the 
production, an understanding natural to the given artist, and by that form of 
expression of those ideas which is peculiar to him. And these are closely bound 
up with his philosophy. 

We adduce several examples characteristic of a different understanding of 
style in the camera-man's art from that which predominates in bourgeois cinema. 

In his note to the film " We from Kronstadt ", the camera-man N. S. 
Naumov writes : 

In the picture " We from Kronstadt " the main emphasis in the camera-man's work 
should be put into endowing the film images with realisticness. We absolutely reject 
aesthetic decoration of the shot, pretentious compositional construction, studied effects 
and affectation in composition leading to emphasised pictoriality. We reject the favourite 
and already traditional foreshortening constructions against a background of sky, we 
reject all those methods which are usually introduced exclusively to achieve a superficial 
decorative quality of shot. 

Maximum simplicity and naturalness without exaggerated compositional accents : 
such is our task in the representational treatment of the given film. 

We do not predetermine any particular unity in exploiting technical methods. From 
our point of view shooting with soft or hard focus lenses throughout the length of this film 
is far from constituting the style of our work. On the contrary, we assume it to be possible 
to film certain scenes in a soft focus, and others with sharp focus transmission. This 



lepends primarily on the motivation which we deduce from the ideological and artistic 
ask of the various scenes. . . . 

The waters of the Baltic are very different material in texture from those of the Black 
Sea. Kronstadt is not Sevastopol. The Baltic coast is not the Black Sea shore. The 
;ky of the Gulf of Finland is not the cloud of the Black Sea coast. This determines the 
iifference in the optical treatment of the various episodes which develop with the Baltic 
ind not the Black Sea as background. . . . 

In the picture " We from Kronstadt " the specific features of the local colouration 
jhould be transmitted in plastic images. The mist, wind, dusk, granite, iron, the industrial 
night of the vessels of war are the typical Kronstadt colouration, which to some extent 
is in contrast to the sunlit surroundings of the Black Sea coast. 

In the first part of the film the main emphasis is laid on the exposition of the setting, 
which predetermines the sharp exposition of the texture of the material. But later on these 
elements must be thrust into the background, since the emphasis is transferred to the 
development of the narrative action. 

. . . We shall strive for composition in numerous distantial planes, which will enable 
as to reveal the space in the shot in all its variety, and to avoid impoverishing it with flat 
constructions of two-plane composition, etc. 

We shall not stop to analyse the essence of the foregoing excerpt, for we 
only wish to emphasise the new conception of style which characterises the recog- 
nised creative method of a Soviet camera-man artist. This new conception of 
their creative tasks can be illustrated by another example from work by the same 

In the picture " Woman " there is a scene in which a kulak attempts to per- 
suade a collective farmer to leave the collective farm. He tells him of the joys 
of pre-revolutionary life, of the fruitfulness of having one's own land, of the 
satisfaction and rewards from ' genuine farm labour ', and so on. 

The kulak's speech, which is given in sub-titles, is illustrated by a number 
of shots which, edited on the principle of contrast, refute the whole argument, 
and show the heavy, servile labour, the hunger and death of the poor villager, 
working for the kulak, who exploits the fruitfulness of the earth. 

These scenes were shot in a style of specially emphasised aestheticism, softly, 
decoratively, exuberantly, with a certain sugary stylisation. Thus the methods 
of shooting were in sharp contradiction to the content of the shots, and this con- 
trast disclosed the hypocrisy of the kulak philosophy, which adorns reality and 
represents it in rosy, captivating hues. 

Thus the methods of shooting were on the one hand in organic connection 
with the character of the kulak's speech, and on the other in sharp contradiction 
to the content of the shots taken. By force of this contradiction, intelligent 
application of camera-man's methods succeeded in emphasising the gloom and 
oppression of the village poor simultaneously with the hypocrisy of the kulak. 

For us, we repeat, the conception of style in camera-man's art acquires quite 
a different significance from the mechanical schematism of choosing representa- 
tional resources homogeneous in their character. 

The style of Soviet art, the style of socialist realism, involving a just revelation 
and reflection of reality in all its variety, dictates that the camera-man must have 
a new understanding of his creative tasks and an active relationship to the thematics 
and content of the filmed picture. This primarily connotes that he must be 
actively included in the cognising process with which a genuine artistic creation 
is inevitably associated. The task of the Soviet camera-man consists in finding 
the guiding element in the aggregate of phenomena, in isolating the essential 
from the unessential, in approaching his analysis of the content of the scenario 
and the material of the film on a social basis, in generalising and expressing in 



representational composition the elements most operative from the aspect of the 
given ideological content. 

Can we claim that the Soviet camera-man's art has already mastered the 
method of socialist realism ? On the whole such a conclusion would be pre- 
mature. But undoubtedly the elements of the new understanding, the new 
attitude to his creative tasks are present in individual productions of the Soviet 
cinema. And this sharply distinguishes the work of many Soviet camera-men, 
from that of the Western cinematographer. 

In this regard we should mention, once more the latest work of the camera- 
man B. Volchek, the film " Boule-de-Suif " (directed by M. Romm). 

In this film, which reflects a definite historical period, Volchek was con- 
fronted with several ways of possible representational treatment of the material. 
He could have constructed his work in direct imitation of French pictorial art 
of the period to which the material of the film relates. In particular, he could 
have exploited the experience of the impressionist masters. Following the tradi- 
tions of historical staging current in bourgeois cinematography, he could have !• 
exactly reproduced the compositional schemes of a number of pictorial productions 
belonging to the second half of the nineteenth century. 

He chose a different way. In his work we see a new understanding of the 
images of Maupassant, and this new understanding emerges in the representa- 
tional treatment of " Boule-de-Suif ". 

A brief example. In the first part of the film, down to the moment when 
Boule-de- Suif yields to the arguments of the patriots, all the portrait close-ups 
are given in a single-plane optical transmission. Compositionally the close-ups 
are constructed so that the genuine features of the patriots are not revealed. Then, 
in full accordance with the development of the subject and the change in the 
patriots' attitude to Boule-de-Suif, there is a sharp change in the camera-man's 

Volchek changes to asymmetrical diagonal constructions, to sharp fore- 
shortening and harsh cut-offs of the close-ups. The lighting composition also 
changes, and thus the patriots' close-ups acquire the sharpness of satirical por- j 
traits. But the softened optical transmission is retained for Boule-de-Suif. 

In other words, the motivation of the various camera-man's methods, which 
are directed to the demonstration of the true significance of the film images, is 
founded in the actual development of the action, in the actual ideological con- ; 
ception of the object. In " Boule-de-Suif " the realism of the camera-man's work 
is determined primarily by a sound understanding of type images, treated from 
the present-day, socialist-realistic aspect. 

In all the films of Western cinematography we are hardly likely to find 
examples of such a differentiated approach on the part of the camera-man to 
the representation of the various personages in the film. 

In American films we frequently find shots in which details of the circum- 
stances are transmitted with extreme exactitude, and the texture of the shot 
material is splendidly manifested. But is this realism in our sense of the word ? 

" Realism," says Engels, " in addition to accuracy of the details, implies a 
fidelity in the transmission of the typical characters in their typical circumstances." 

Realism in camera-man's art is not exhaustively achieved by the photographic 
transmission of shot space, real lighting and texture. 

The camera-man's work is consciously to manifest the characteristics of the 
living definite image. Like the director, in constructing the individual shot 
he should start from an integral understanding of the finished image. The 



imbodiment of an artistic conception involves a compositional comprehension of 
:very detail, accenting certain factors, suppressing others and excluding them 
rom the field of vision. In certain cases compositional generalisation presupposes 
listortion of the object filmed, and this also does not contradict the conception 
)f realism. From the following example one can judge of the importance that 
nethods of deliberate distortion of the object can have in achieving greater expres- 
siveness. ^ 

Suppose we have to shoot the scene describing Tchitchikov's visit to 
sobakevitch. We quote the whole of Gogol's text of this scene. 

Tchitchikov gave Sobakevitch a sidelong glance, and thought at that moment that he 
jeemed very like an average-sized bear. . . . 

. . . Tchitchikov looked around the room once more, and all that was in it : every- 
thing was stable, clumsy to the highest degree, and had a strange resemblance to the 
master of the house. In one corner of the reception-room stood a bellied walnut bureau 
3n four extremely absurd legs — a perfect bear. The table, armchairs, chairs — all was of 
the heaviest and of disturbing quality ; in a word every chair said : ' And I'm also Sobake- 
vitch ', or, ' And I'm also very like Sobakevitch ! ' 

In treating the foregoing scene we could observe the simplest principle of 
clear transmission of the texture of the furniture. But a deeper understanding 
of the physiognomy of the objects, arising out of the characteristics of Sobakevitch 's 
image, dictates quite a special treatment of those objects. It would be advisable 
to choose a lower viewpoint, so giving them monumentalism and great ponderous- 
ness. It would be advisable to use an extremely short-focus lens, so giving the 
objects a sharply distorted twist. It would be advisable to seek a similar method 
of lighting for the close-ups of Sobakevitch and for the details of the furniture 
superficially resembling him. 

Would all this be ' distortion of reality ', would it contradict the principle of 
realism ? 

By no means. It would be a correct generalisation of the individual features, 
intended to emphasise the whole with the greatest completeness and expressive- 
ness. It would be an active demonstration of artistic visualisation with the aid 
of the representational resources of camera-man's technique. 

So that, when it is directed towards the expressive exposition of the artistic 
intention, the deliberate distortion of the object shot does not necessarily con- 
tradict the principle of realistic representation. But deliberate distortion of the 
object also has its limits. In cases where the specific quality of the. material 
masters the camera-man, where a clear subject motivation yields place to an 
aesthetic delight in dimensions and texture, the bounds of real perception are 
obliterated, and we come up against formalistic treatment of the shot. By way 
of example we may adduce certain works of Dziga Vertov, in which, despite the 
presence of thematics which closely approximate to the views we entertain, the 
exposition of industrial might grows into the formalism of the exhibition of the 
machine as an end in itself, its aesthetic triumph. To many shots in his pictures 
the words of Buzzi, the poet of machinism, are applicable : " Glory to thee, 
machine — polished steel. . . . You force millions of people to live. Like an 
apparition you are set above the ant-heaps. Create machines which in their turn 
will create new machines — the sole heroines in the drama of the future." 

The loss of real motivation for the content of the shot, the surpassing of the 
bounds of real subject perception of the material lead to the method as such 
acquiring self-sufficing importance, and then the composition becomes a purely 



formalistic combination of dimensions, planes, and light and shade, void of all 
intrinsic content. 

In isolated cases formalism in representational treatment also arises when 
the camera-man completely neglects the specific features of the concrete material, 
and is guided only by his own subjective perceptions. Dead compositional 
allegories and the juxtaposition of details, symbolism which emasculates a defi- 
nitely sensitive relationship to the artistic image, are the result of such a method 
of work. In the camera-man's decision of the compositional task his starting- 
point must be a vital, picturesque idea of real things in their variety of associations 
and relationships, and not a geometrical juxtaposition of dimensions and planes, 
introduced from outside as a rational scheme. 

Thus, the creative method of the Soviet camera-man presupposes an active, 
socially informed relationship to the ideological conception of the scenario, and 
an analysis of the definite material of the film from the aspect of the governing 
criterion of realistic selection and organisation of the expressive elements. This 
governing criterion is socialist reality with its philosophy and stylistic system. 

The Soviet camera-man may not construct his compositional generalisations 
only on the basis of his own subjective and isolated superficial perceptions, for 
such a method of cognising reality limits his understanding of the artistic purpose 
and images of the film. Neither may he construct his work on the simple borrow- ' 
ing of the styles of someone else's artistic school, for that would mean introducing 
organically alien elements from outside. 

Does all this mean that we at all deny the importance to the camera-man's ' 
craft of a definite visual culture, understood as an individual ability of perception 
and estimation of what is seen ? Not at all. The specific features of the camera- 
man's art demand that he should possess a highly developed visual culture, an 
educated perception of form, dimension, space and light and shade. 

An uneducated eye [says the painter Ferdinand Hodler] sees the form and light of 
things not as does an experienced eye. It does not understand all the value of the phen- 
omenon, the rhythm of the form, engendered by movement, pose, and gesture. Most 
difficult of all is to trace the tempo of movement. 

One may recognise a man's face, even though one has completely forgotten the shape of 
his head. Looking at a tree, you know it is a maple, and so on, that the tree is large 
or small. And that is all. Anyone who wishes to represent that tree must in addition 
have a perception of the proportion of each individual part of it. But the unprepared 
eye never can capture the proportion of an object distributed on a plane. It is not easy 
to discriminate the special role essential to each thing in a general vital arrangement. . . . 
To see, means ' to know.' 

Deprived of an artistic perception of the form of an object, the rhythm of 
movement, the play of light and shade, the camera-man can never raise himself 
to the level of producing an aesthetically perfect composition, combining the 
ideological content with representational craftsmanship. A visually effective 
interpretation of the content is possible only provided there is an innate or educated 
perception of formal elements, and that is one of the necessary qualities of the 
camera-man artist. 

In exactly the same way our understanding of the tasks of the Soviet camera- 
man's creative method in no way denies the importance of the artistic legacy of 
contiguous spheres of art. For example, can the camera-man exploit various 
methods of impressionist painting ? 

In our view there is a fundamental difference between the critical ex- 
ploitation of the experience of impressionist painting within the limits of a 



ertain style system, and the direct adoption of the position of the impressionist 

The camera-man impressionist who concentrates all his attention on pictorial 
ight and air effects, and throws all his creative energy into the search for new 
xpressive lighting methods, transforming the lighting treatment of the shot into 
l creative end in itself, ipso facto entirely surrenders to the school of formalistic 
nvestigators, and excludes from his work the ' living spirit ' of all creation, its 
dea. He loses organic unity with the director, he ceases to be interested in the 
deological viewpoint of the scenario, and is locked in the circle of formal and 
echnical problems of artistic photography. Not infrequently he achieves genuine 
>erfection in the realm of light and shade, and astonishes us with examples of 
exceptional formal craftsmanship, but at the same time those very examples may 
erve as models of an intrinsic lack of idea. 

However, impressionism cannot be considered only from the aspect of the 
epresentational methods specific to the artists of this tendency. Impressionism 
irose in pictorial art as a tendency distinguished primarily by its philosophic 

Though we cannot accept the philosophy of impressionism, we certainly do 
lot think of rejecting the rich arsenal of expressive resources provided by that 
>chool. Thus exploited, an impressionist method ceases to be ' impressionist ', 
ind acquires a different functional tendency and a different character. 

In the film " The Battleship Potemkin " is a scene in which the morning 
Tiists are depicted in soft focus transmission and soft semi-tones, washed con- 
tours, and especial accentuation of the aerial perspective, i.e. in a manner entirely 
:haracteristic of the impressionist artists' methods. Does that mean that Tisse 
violated the stylistic integrity of " Potemkin " by changing his manner of filming 
for this scene ? Or perhaps these shots justify one in claiming Tisse as a perfect 
impressionist ! Tisse has not a trace of impressionism in his make-up, in the 
sense of philosophic outlook. Only a superficial estimate of his work, based on 
formalistic analysis of superficial methods, without taking their functional motiva- 
tion into account, would allow such a superficial deduction. 

A critical exploitation and mastery, in a new ideological and philosophic 
context, of the representational experience of old pictorial art is perfectly legitimate 
to the camera-man. A representational method of itself cannot have any absolute 
significance established once for all, even though it arise as the expression of a 
definite philosophy. To conceive the old method anew in the light of a new 
style system involves giving it a different sense and different significance. 

It is this critical mastery and assimilation of pictorial experience that con- 
stitutes the task of exploiting the legacy of pictorial art in cinema. 

Finally, one more point concerning the individual manner of work of the 
camera-man artist. 

There is a single style of Soviet art, the style of socialist realism. But it 
by no means follows that a correct method of artistic representation of reality 
presupposes only one definite creative manner, obligatory upon all artists without 
exception. When A. Golovnya and E. Tisse, working in the genres of revolu- 
tionary emotion, applied the methods of news-reel filming, raising those methods 
to the height of artistic generalisation, that did not mean that the representational 
treatment of " Potemkin " or " The Deserter " had to become the sole deter- 
mining manner of work for all Soviet camera-men. 

Working on a given genre, every camera-man must preserve his own appro- 
priate creative features, his individual manner of shooting. And this by no 



means contradicts the conception of a single style. A simple comparison of the 
individual manner of work of various masters cannot serve as the starting-point i 
for analysis, inasmuch as creative manners are not comparable. 

In Tisse's work linear dimensional treatment, multi-plane compositions with 
great depth and clearly expressed expressionist tendencies predominate. And 
this is the peculiarity of his creative manner, which has just as much right to 
recognition as, say, the creative manner of Moskvin or Demutsky. 

Moskvin's work, on the other hand, is distinguished by its tendency towards 
light-plastic treatment and two-distantial plane constructions. Emotional nuance 
is much more natural to his work than to Tisse's. Finally, Demutsky more 
clearly perceives composition in space than composition in time. This gives 
rise to monumentalism and a certain static quality in his group shots. But this 
is not to be regarded as a negative quality. When speaking of the creative manner 
of a camera-man artist we can only say to what degree the given creative manner i 
satisfies the needs of the definite genre in which he works. The conception ' genre ' 
undoubtedly exists in the camera-man's art. We say that every genre ought to 
find its expression in the peculiarities of the representational treatment of the film. I 

So far Soviet cinema has not embraced all the variety of genres possible in 
cinema art. The genre of revolutionary emotion has predominated hitherto. 
Only now are we seeing the first beginnings of comedy, fantasy, slapstick, romantic 
drama and other genres. And the first works to show mastery of the new genres i 
have shown that the very nature of each of them demands special representational 
treatment, and different manners of shooting. It is difficult to imagine, for 
instance, a successful lyrical comedy with shots taken in heavy, monumental 
distortions, with low, sombre tone and harsh effect lighting. The light, merry i 
comedy should obviously be shot with the main motives taken into account. 
In this direction the camera-man is called upon not only to obtain a clear under- I 
standing of the physiognomy of the genre, but also to find corresponding repre- 
sentational resources, ensuring easy perception of the narrative. In essentials 
it would be correct to supply only such methods of composition as assist the 
narrative dynamic of the comedy. 

It is highly important for the camera-man to have a perception of the differ- 
ence in genres. Generally speaking, the most correct of all methods would be 
for him to be educated in a definite genre. Of course that does not mean that 
every camera-man should work in one genre chosen once for all. But, given the 
presence of an established creative method, a predominant tendency towards one 
or another genre reveals itself. 

The greater the development of varied genres in Soviet cinema, the more i 
sharply will the problem of genre confront us in the camera-man's art. In fact, 
the same landscape can be optically and tonally treated in quite different ways. 
By applying a dense light filter we can give it a pessimistic tinge, thickening and 
lowering the tone. Or it may be rendered as sunlit landscape with a broadly 
deployed depth of perspective, or, finally, elements of aerial perspective can 
predominate, which will completely change the character of the perception once 
more. Such distinctions are especially striking in the treatment of a portrait 
where, as we have already remarked, essential modifications in the transmission 
of the facial proportions can be optically achieved. 

We get one or another visual effect in dependence on the camera-man artist's 
creative perception and manner of work. And here we have to decide the extent 
to which the genre characteristics of the given representational treatment cor- 
respond with the genre of the film as a whole. 



We have already said that the camera-man must not be limited in his choice 
>f representational resources and methods of shooting. He has the right to 
xploit all expressive resources without exception in order to reveal the content 
jid the artistic function of the film, treated from the standpoint of our socialist 
eality. But this raises a fundamental problem. Will not such an attitude lead 
n practice to compositional eclecticism, to the violation of the aesthetic integrity 
if the shot-editing system ? 

The question is highly important not only in principle, but in practice. 
Think of a film in which the various episodes and even shots are taken in very 
lifferent styles. Let us suppose that there are action sections given sharp optical 
reatment, then editing cut-ins consisting of optically softened landscape shots, 
iven a primitive editing assembly of these shots, so sharply different from one 
mother in texture, will reveal the lack of compositional harmony. In technical 
anguage, these shots cannot be cut together, and that means that the style of the 
:diting ' phrase ', which has its own special laws, has been violated. It means 
hat the cutting transition from one shot to another becomes visible to the audi- 
ence, and the continuity of the visual perception of the film is broken. Here the 
visual factors of the cutting-joins follow the line not of a functional sequence, but 
)f a representational one. 

And this highly essential factor demands that the camera-man should possess 
remendous creative sensitiveness, for the maximum intensification of the image- 
inks of all the shots in a representational system is one of the most important 
asks of composition. In a film the editing-join ought to exist only technically, 
ind should never be perceptible to the spectator. When the camera-man begins 
o film a single episode or scene he must have a clear idea of all the consequences 
)f logical transition from one method to another. Where the editing compo- 
sitional scheme is worked out in advance, fortuitously cut-in editing interruptions, 
aken with methods fundamentally inapplicable in the limits of the given scene, 
:annot occur. While the method must be theoretically conceived from the aspect 
)f the general conception of the film, it is also necessary to determine what 
iignificance that method will have in the stylistic system of the particular episode 
)f the film. Otherwise the rhythmic and image link of the episode is violated, 
vhich leads to an eclectic assembly of shots heterogeneous and forcibly divorced 
from one another. 

Thus the method should be conceived not only from the standpoint of the 
itylistic construction of the film as a whole, but also from that of the stylistics of the 
ndividual episodes. However, even that is not sufficient. When making a film 
3ased on a scenario written up from material of a literary classic the camera-man is 
Confronted with a new demand. In the representational treatment of such a 
ilm he must catch and manifest the characteristic peculiarities of the literary 
Composition, and the style which will distinguish it from a ' free screen adaptation \ 
We recall Pushkin's " Postmaster " and compare this work with the film of the 
same name. What space does Pushkin give to landscape, what is the character 
)f his description of it, and how are the landscape shots reproduced in the film ? 
We can find not only no compositional correspondence whatever, but not even 
.he minimum of approximation to the original. Although from the aspect of 
:he social treatment of the theme and narrative such a contradiction is sometimes 
quite suitable, on the representational plane such a contempt for the original 
material can hardly be regarded as desirable. 

This example testifies to the importance of the camera-man having acquaint- 
ance not only with the scenario of the film but also with the literary sources which 




not infrequently, on attentive study, provide far more valuable material than the 
scenario itself. 

We especially note that it is essential that the camera-man should have not 
only an exact knowledge of the text of the literary source, but also a profound 
understanding of the actual style of the work, its school, and dramaturgic methods. 
In Gogol's " Inspector-General ", for instance, the exposition of the actors and 
the subject situation is conveyed in the course of the very first phrase uttered by 1 ] 
Gorolnitchi : 

" I've invited you, gentlemen, in order to communicate some unpleasant news. An 
Inspector-General is coming." 

Ammos Fedorovitch : " What Inspector-General ? " 
Artemi Filipovitch : " What Inspector-General ? " 
And so on. 

If we were making a film based on the " Inspector- General " the retention 
of Gogol's compositional form would entail very special methods of shooting' 
the very first close-ups in the picture. There is an enormous difference between 
a close-up of an acting character, and a portrait close-up which gives merely an 
exposition of the actor's features. Perhaps Gogol's " Inspector- General " is the 
only work in all drama in which the exposition is given in such a short phrase. 
The action begins to develop immediately afterwards, and the representational, 
treatment of the personages must change in the direction of revealing the narrative 
plot factors. In order to understand such a transition the camera-man must 
imagine the film not in the form of separate close-ups and mid-shots, but in that 
of a system of integral images in their complex dramaturgic inter-relationships. 
This means that he must take an author's part in making the film from the very ' 
moment that its artistic function is engendered, and this is the guarantee of the 
creation being of full value and saturated with ideas. 

Holding this attitude as we do, we are justified in making such demands of 
the Soviet camera-man as we make of the cinema director in his sphere, for which 
purpose we must bring the camera-man into the creative period of prepara- 

This is the sense in which the question of inter-relationships between the 
director and the camera-man arises. A correct understanding of the camera-' 
man's functions, his conscious participation in the process of work on a picture, 
and the unity in the creative attitudes of the entire group, which unity must pass 
through all the processes of work on the film, force us to regard the camera-man 
not as a technical executant, but primarily as a co-director. 

The creative group, welded by the organic unity of the director's and camera- 
man's creative attitudes, must become the basic production link in the soviet 


From the position of technical executant the Soviet camera-man has raised 
himself to the level of a creative worker, fully entitled to claim an author's parti- 
cipation in making the film. Viewed from this angle the present position of the 
Soviet camera-man is on the road to full recognition, but that of the Western 
camera-man must be regarded as wholly unsatisfactory. 

Theoretically called a ' creative worker ', he not infrequently is still placed 
in the working conditions of a technical photographer, being administratively 
transferred from picture to picture, from one director to another, without taking 
into account his creative attitude and desires, and irrespective of whether the 



^presentational treatment of the film is concretely realisable by the creative 
sndencies of the given camera-man. 

Administrative transfers of camera-men from one director to another without 
aking their creative peculiarities into account should be resolutely condemned in 
ood production practice, for they lead to the degradation of the creative group, 
nd, in the first place, to the depersonalisation of the camera-man as a 


At the same time, on its way to the mastery of creative methods of the utmost 
alue, the art of the Soviet camera-man is faced with the necessity to overcome 
till greater specific difficulties. The main barrier along that road is the inability 
>f many present-day camera-men theoretically and practically to conceive all the 
r ariety of representational possibilities in cinema technique. 

There are still strong vestigial tendencies towards passive reproductionalism 
n Soviet camera-man's art, and these have found their expression in the ' theory 
>f documentalism '. And vestiges of formalistic aestheticism are strong also. 
Rejection of deliberate expressive organisation of the material with the aid of 
;ompositional resources, under the plea of ' greatest approximation to reality ', 
ind the replacement of truth in the representational treatment by superficial 
/erisimilitude, are a great obstacle to the development of a methodology of Soviet 
;amera-man's art constructed on the new principles. 

Even in the work of certain leading Soviet camera-men we not infrequently 
ind artificial separation of the rationalistic from the emotional, concretely sensi- 
tive element. The achievement of an organic unity in composition in which the 
rationalistic and emotional elements exist as an indivisible whole — that task of 
art is correct and confirmed by life itself. And it is achievable only in Soviet 

The cinema is an art of enormous potential possibilities. It is an art created 
by a group, and the camera-man is entitled to a responsible and honourable role 
in that group. At the same time, by its very nature the cinema is a representa- 
tional art, and this must never be forgotten. The cinema has acquired sound, 
but it has not ceased to be visual because of that. The cinema film exists only 
in visual images, and these images cannot be created without the organic participa- 
tion of the camera-man. 

" The property of genuine form," wrote Heinrich von Kleist, " is directly, 
immediately to transmit the thought. A weak form distorts it like a bad mirror, 
and reminds one of nothing except itself." 

We stand for a form in cinematographic production which shall be of the 
fullest value and saturated with ideas. 

We stand for the recognition of the camera-man as a true artist who in close 
co-operation with the creative group is engaged in creating the art of Soviet cinema. 

ISBN 0-8090-1366-5 $2.95 

The Cinema as a Graphic Art 


This pioneer study on the use of the camera in film making is 
still one of the most important works on the subject, covering 
both the technical and creative processes that a camera-man 
must employ to produce a fusion of image and meaning. 

S. M. Eisenstein writes in an Appreciation included in this 
book: "I appreciate your effort to make the first steps towards 
clarification of the specific problems in the work of the camera- 
man considered as problems of art — that light, indeed, in 
which they should be faced and considered. In this way you 
are successfully profiting from the great experience you gained 
during your work as second to so great a master as Eduard 
Tisse on my productions 'October' and The General Line/ 
and also from your own successes as first camera-man during 
the last two years. 

"This experience, together with the serious and scientific 
approach we have introduced and are trying to cultivate in our 
Film University — the first in the world — is what renders your 
book of real value and interest to everyone concerned with 
the work of the camera-man as an artist. Regarding him — the 
'man who turns the handle' — as such is the only fair, right and 
useful way of looking at him." 

HILL and WANG, 19 Union Square West, New York, N.Y. 10003 
Cover design by Leo Manso